Well-loved and highly-respected expats Zbys and Ruri Fedorowicz will be flying out of Bahrain on Monday to retire back to the UK after a 31-year stopover in what they described as the ‘magic’ kingdom.
Professor Zbys, arrived in Awali as a dentist to fill in for a holidaying surgeon and ended up staying to become one of the island’s leading health experts and a valued advisor of international standing.
“Bahrain is a place that we know well and will always remember fondly,” he said. “It’s hard to describe, perhaps the one word I would choose is ‘magic’.
“I went to say farewell to some Bahraini friends last week and said that Bahrain may have changed, what with all the development in recent years, but one thing remains the same, the warmth of its people.”
The good professor has been instrumental in helping to provide pioneering research and statistical evidence to improve the treatment of breast cancer sufferers in Bahrain and the care and diet of those diagnosed with diabetes.
Born in the Yorkshire city of Leeds to Polish parents, he first met Ruri in the dentist's chair when he was studying at the Royal Dental Hospital of London's School of Dental Surgery.
She worked in London and lived with her family in Edgware - dad was a Brit and mum came from Iceland.
He managed to pull the pretty blonde, they dated, fell in love, married and decided to leave a miners-strike ridden UK in 1974 to experience life abroad.
Zbys career took him to Europe, Africa and the Middle East and it was during a spell in Saudi Arabia working in the medical services division in military hospitals, that the call came to help out in Bahrain.
“I was asked to replace a dentist who was going on holiday at Awali Hospital and whilst he was away I took over for a month and, at the end of that time period, they asked me if I would be interested in a full time position,” he explained.
The rest, they say, is history. They arrived with their two children, James, 10, and Disa, 12. James started at Awali School before moving to join his sister at St Christopher’s and they stayed in Awali for more than a decade.
“When we first came to Bahrain I would describe it as warm and friendly, cosy and comfortable,” said Zbys. “On a Thursday night there was a bus that would take us to the Gulf Hotel – back then it was a ‘trip into town’ – although Awali seemed to have everything, a football club, tennis club, there were all the facilities you could possibly want.”
Ruri added: “It was very family orientated. That was the big thing for us.”
The couple has left a big impression here. As reported earlier in GulfWeekly, Zbys worked on Bahrain’s breast cancer clinical guidelines with Think Pink Bahrain’s chairman Jules Sprakel and vice chairman Tahera Al Alawi.
And, a systematic review of clinical trials evaluating the effects of nutritional approaches to the management of Type 2 Diabetes, is close to conclusion.
Identifying and hand-searching regional Arabic and English language healthcare journals to ensure that relevant studies are made available to wider groups have also been a determined endeavour. His publications include 45 Cochrane-systematic reviews and protocols covering breast cancer, dermatology, upper gastrointestinal and pancreatic diseases and urologic cancer, among other conditions.
He has recently co-authored and published two books on cross-cultural healthcare and has been published in a number of peer-reviewed journals. His principal research interests are in the methodology of systematic reviews and in healthcare research.
Zbys was also part of a guidelines development group for Costa Rica which had a huge impact there and was endorsed internationally. The latest work in Bahrain achieved similar success with the study coming under the spotlight of the European Commission at its recent Initiative on Breast Cancer Conference in Italy.
Alongside concentrating on work-related health matters, he personally kept fit by running, finishing eight Bahrain Marathons, with a best recorded time of 2hr 38mins in a race in South Africa. He also entered numerous 100km and even a 160km event and reckons his early athletic efforts have helped ‘bank up’ health tokens for his pending retirement.
Both Zbys, 70, and Ruri, 69, admit leaving Bahrain will be a huge wrench. They moved from Awali to Budaiya and stayed in the same property for 19 years. “It’s the longest we’ve actually lived anywhere since we got married and we’ve been married 45 years. I still can’t believe we are going,” admitted Ruri, a keen tennis player who worked as a teaching assistant at the British School of Bahrain and worked on the Bahrain archaeological dig in Saar for a number of years.
They have bought a bungalow in Alconbury, a quaint village in the English county of Cambridgeshire, to be closer to their grandchildren, Darci, six, and Mya, two. Their son, James, 41, an airline captain, and his wife, Alison, and their children, live close by. Their daughter, Disa, 43, is a therapist working with autistic children in the US.
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