Awards to the Medical Services from the Collection of the late Tony Sabell

Awards to the Medical Services from the Collection of the late Tony Sabell

Anthony Garth Sabell, MBE (1926 - 2012)

Born on the borders of Smethwick and Birmingham and growing up in Oldbury, Tony then spent the rest of his life living with his family in the South West of Birmingham.

Rising to Senior Tutor in the Optics Department at Aston University and later working at several local hospitals fitting specialised contact lenses to patients, he worked at the Birmingham and Midland Eye Hospital until finally retiring at the age of 80. He was well known in his field with his deep knowledge about the history of contact lens fitting and contributed to several academic tomes. He was rewarded with an MBE for services to the NHS and typically chose to have this presented at the hospital so that his many friends, colleagues and relatives could be present.

Tony collected general WW1 militaria to begin with, then changed to collecting medals eventually specialising in medical, in particular those to unofficial nursing units like the Scottish Women’s Hospital. He joined the Birmingham Medal Society in its infancy, also the Cheltenham Medal Society and the OMRS; at these he made many life-long friends and enjoyed doing talks and making up displays as well as attending meetings and outings. His pleasure in medal collecting stemmed as much in the recipient research as in the ownership of them.

Family holidays were planned around research including many visits to graveyards and the decedents of medal recipients. His family also spent many hours waiting outside antique and book shops!

Tony built up a large archive of information especially about individual nurses and nursing history. He was always pleased to be able to look things up for others. Despite not owning a VC he was an avid collector of information about the recipients, including taking vast numbers of photographs of memorials and grave stones.

His other hobbies included wine making, model aircraft construction and bookbinding. He meticulously bound many of his books, directories and journals, and was a keen and regular member of the local bookbinding group.