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John Carvell was a medical student at the School of Medicine (Queen's College, Dundee, part of the University of St Andrews, latterly the University of Dundee) from 1964 to 1970. He was runner up in Young Scot '65, which a series of programmes broadcast live by Scottish Television and one of his interviewers was the renowned British comedienne Joyce Grenfell. He was the first president of the University of Dundee Sports Union and was also Captain of the University of Dundee Hares and Hounds (cross-country team) in 1968 and the Athletics Team in 1969. In 1968 he was part of the University's expedition to Scoresby Land in East Greenland, serving as the medical officer; he also sent back a number of reports that were published by the Courier and Advertiser. After graduation he was appointed as a demonstrator in the Department of Anatomy. He was Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Salisbury District Hospital from 1983 to 2001, thereafter being appointed Consultant Emeritus. He was awarded the Fellowship of the British Medical Association in 2009 in recognition of his services to medicine and to the Salisbury Division of the BMA. He is Chairman of the National Spinal Taskforce for England at the Department of Health, Chairman of The Salisbury Independent Hospitals Trust and Public Governor of Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust. In 2012 he endowed the The John Carvell Prizes in Musculoskeletal / Orthopaedic Studies at The University of Dundee School of Medicine.