by Dr Gordon Williams

The British Society of Echocardiography was officially launched in 1991, following a brief period as 'The Echo Club'.

The Society’s activities grew remarkably quickly, in so small part thanks to Hewlett Packard Ltd, who at the time were producing echo machines, as they allowed the members use of one of their London offices for meetings to organise and develop the Society’s activities.

As the founders were determined that this 'Echo User’s Group' would not be a temporary affair which would fizzle out, one of their early tasks was to establish an appropriate title. A number of suggestions were made but the one which received the majority support was the British Society of Echocardiography, naturally abbreviated to BSE. Their initial promotion of a Society known as the BSE met with some derision from a number of individuals, for at that time the same abbreviation, that is BSE, was in common usage for Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis, otherwise more commonly known as Mad Cow Disease. This dreadful and fatal condition was afflicting many individuals in the UK at the time, hence the disapproval of some for using the abbreviation BSE. However the founders felt that they could ride that out and pressed on regardless.

The Society was soon developing protocols for accreditation in addition to meetings and receiving some advertisements to be circulated so there was a need for an enlarged newsletter. The late Graham Leech took up this challenge as he was computer literate and had an early software edition of Publisher. Graham changed the single sheet newsletter to an 8 page stapled production.

The Society became an affiliated subgroup of the British Cardiac Society (BCS). The BCS allowed the Society to use office space at their offices at 9 Fitzroy Square, London and we were allocated space on the programme of the BCS annual meetings.

Whilst generally the membership of the Society grew year on year that was not always the case but by mid-1994 the Society was proud to have reached a membership total of 750 which made the us the largest affiliated group of the BCS. The Society was still essentially penniless and we were grateful that Hewlett Packard donated a laser printer to help improve communications. 

The Society had programme time allocated at the BCS annual meetings but in addition our own autumn annual meeting had now become well established, being held in hotels in different parts of the UK. Although a meeting held in Brighton in November 1994 was generally considered very successful, there were some that were not happy. Two newsletter extracts following that meeting are reproduced below.

That Brighton meeting embraced the social event as a main feature of the annual meeting.