John McTimoney

The Origin of the Mctimoney Technique

John McTimoney fell from the top of a ladder when, as a farm labourer, he had been thatching a hayrick, and subsequently began to suffer severe problems with his health, especially with both of his arms.

He was cured by Mr Ashford, a chiropractor in Birmingham who had been trained by the Originator of Chiropractic, D D Palmer in Davenport, USA. My father was fired with the ambition of becoming a chiropractor himself, but Mr Ashford stuck to the rule which meant training could only be obtained in America. However my father had the great fortune to talk, and talk, to Mr Ashford, a great link with the Originator himself.

My father was later led to study under Dr Mary Walker in Oxford.In approximately 1930 Dr Walker had sold up everything to go to America to train under the originator's son, B J Palmer a bold and expensive step, and she felt that training needed to be established in England.

My father was to develop the treatment further so that it became a distinctive approach and a separate branch of Chiropractic. With some chiropractors using vigorous techniques in the 1970's, we felt it necessary to give the method a name, simply to help patients to realise that chiropractors may work in different ways.

It is my intention to write about my late father and how he came to fulfil what seems to have been his destiny and purpose. Find out below how YOU may be able to help!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Writing About John McTimoney - Can You Help?

John McTimoney was my father. It was his wish that after his death his three children, would become "Guardians of the McTimoney Chiropractic Technique" since we knew him best and he felt he could rely on us to speak for him. Unfortunately this was ignored following his death.

Sadly,both my brother Russell and sister Cynthia have passed away I feel it is down to me to put on record as much as I can about my late father's life and work, in particular what influences formed his ideas and led him to become a pioneering chiropractor.

If you would like to help me build a accurate record I would be most grateful if you could contribute any memories of the man himself; Hilda, his wife; the Birmingham Jewellery School which they both attended; Mr Ashford, the chiropractor in Birmingham who cured my father of severe pain in his arms; Dr Mary Walker in Oxford who trained my father and Ruth Drown who,I believe, helped her; Dr Joan Nind also trained by Mary Walker; Mr John Hall, the farmer in Swerford for whom my father worked as a labourer; Eric Stanley of Hook Norton the butcher for whom my father delivered meat, those who attended the woodwork class in Banbury where John McTimoney taught in 1953; those who were treated by him or whose friends or relatives were; those who studied under him in the Oxfordshire School of Chiropractic; and so on.

I would welcome contributions from the world of horses (my father having found that the type of adjustment he used worked well on horses). Also those who have had their dogs treated.

I particularly liked one lady to whom I spoke who commented "yes, I did go to your father - DIDN'T HELP ME AT ALL!" This just shows that he could not negotiate or succeed with everyone and such reactions are as useful to me as praise.

Other peoples' voices enrich my memories. So ANY memories, please. You may send an e-mail through this website,leave telephone messages on 01865 863006 (give name abd contact details first),and or contact me at Wytham View, Oxford Road, Farmoor, Oxford OX2 9NN

You may, of course, comment on how you, your family,friends,acqaintances and/or animals have been helped by the McTimoney Technique even, if you did not meet the man himself.

Thank you for reading this.

Tribute To My Sister

(As read out at her Funeral and Memorial Services: Included in this section because a lot of information is related to the life of the late JOHN McTIMONEY)

When Cynthia was born in 1937 our parents had moved from Birmingham to Swerford in Oxfordshire. They had met at Birmingham Jewellery School but the Depression years meant there was no market for luxury goods. In desperation at the lack of jobs they made a leap of faith and started a new life in the country. Both had enormous talents but no capital to establish themselves. They had to adjust to country life and it must have been very hard for a new young mother to be so far away from relatives.

So Cynthia was born into a lot of insecurity and uncertainty. Russell our brother was born in the next year but Mother haemorrhaged badly when Russell was born in a hurry and she was taken to hospital. Cynthia, who must have been traumatised by events, fell down steps at the hospital and subsequently developed meningitis. Fortunately a lady from the church in Birmingham to which our mother and her family belonged, came to take Cynthia up to Birmingham and nursed her back to health, but this must in itself have been emotionally disturbing in its timing - perhaps for Cynthia a feeling of rejection, of being sent away. But Cynthia developed a strong bond with Russell and I have often remarked that really they were like twins. Our father found work for a farmer and a happier period began, when the family lived at Spring Farm near Chipping Norton. Later, our parents said this had been an experience upon which they looked back with affection - the happiest and most carefree they could remember being.

The two little tots were free to explore the hedgerows and fields with Mother relying on her strong religious faith to trust that they would be kept safe. However there were some dramatic moments and Mother described looking up to see Cynthia standing in a gateway to a field when the herd of cattle, spooked by something, rushed past her - but when the dust settled she saw Cynthia standing on the same spot, untouched and quite unphased. On another occasion, our mother thought the children had been missing for rather a long time. She went to search and found Russell, who had tried to get through a hedge, impaled on the vicious thorns of a blackthorn bush, unable to go forward or back. Cynthia was standing close by, unsure what to do! Both brother and sister were to be left with a loathing of thorns and would not willingly grow roses in their gardens, which is not surprising.

Our mother was once embarrassingly called on to calm down the farmer who arrived to collect his annual collection of walnuts, to find Russell and Cynthia raiding the crop, guilt evidenced by the stains on their hands.

Unfortunately this peaceful time was to be overshadowed by declaration of war. Our father had been retained as a farmworker but had a devastating fall while thatching a hayrick and became ill, weak and unable to work. He had to give up the tied accommodation and the family moved to a cottage on the Great Tew Estate.We think it was the Church in Birmingham that made it possible for our father to travel to a chiropractor who was also a member of the church. The treatment was successful and our father longed to learn the technique, but the rules of the profession expected everyone to travel to America to learn. No longer a farm labourer, our father knew he must take part in the war effort again and he volunteered his drawing office skills, gained in various temporary jobs in the Depression years. He was sent to Vickers Armstrong to work in the drawing offices. These were located at Hursley near Eastleigh. The family lived in a caravan in the estate village, and Cynthia and Russell attended the village school. Years later I visited Hursley and tried to show Cynthia my picture I had taken of the school "Is that where you went to school?" I asked. "PROBABLY" Cynthia spat, and turned her head the other way. Cynthia, being sensitive and quite easily offended, had not been able to forgive the headmistress, who had tried to train these children who had roamed the fields all day, to get to school on time! "Where you bin? You mek me sick!" the headmistress would exclaim.

Our father was not comfortable in the Design and Drawing Office although he was good at the actual work, doing exploded views of aircraft components for maintenance manuals for Spitfires, and it all became too much when the whole family developed severe flu. Fortunately he was able to transfer to Pressed Steel in Oxford and the family returned to the Great Tew Estate. For the children more happy ramblings took place, free to go anywhere on the estate. There were blackberries, apples including crab apples for jelly, hazelnuts and the big trees on Cow Hill produced wonderful plump chestnuts for roasting if you could get there first. Cynthia and Russell went to the village school but were not as lucky as I was later with a different headmistress, theirs grew long fingernails and would drum them on Cynthia's head whenever she was annoyed with her.

The end of the war came but this created financial problems for our parents. Our father, now without work, tried to find employment as a commercial artist and photographer. (Photography was always a great love of his.) I was born in 1945. Just after that our parents made a bid to move back to Birmingham (yet another upheaval for the children) but things had not recovered from the war and they moved back again to Great Tew, this time to a cottage which was well outside the village. At this point they found Dr Mary Walker, a chiropractor living in Oxford, when our mother needed help for severe neuritis and Dr Walker was looking for someone to train, so took Father on as her pupil.

Trying to feed the children, our parents ran up a sizeable debt at the local shop. Our mother finally went to Birmingham to get outwork from a company producing cuff links, providing a sister's address, for she said the company would never have given her the work if they had realised where she lived. Travelling entailed a walk up a lane to cycle across Enstone Aerodrome, catch a bus to Stratford Upon Avon and another to Birmingham (all weathers) taking the enamelled cufflinks and bringing back the blanks. The whole family gladly joined in with the work, for it meant survival, and even I, aged three, insisted on doing some enamelling until I realised they were giving me the reject, mis-stamped ones to do! Father had found some work delivering meat for a butcher and travelled once a week to take tuition from Mary Walker in Oxford.

We three children were very happy in this cottage. A dog called Joker, who belonged to the nearby farmer, adopted us and gave us all real companionship and joy. He knew we needed him. Russell would go rabitting with his friend David, and the dog. We would get into the shallow brook on hot days and Russell and Cynthia would turn over big stones and catch crayfish. We loved the wild flower meadow opposite our cottage and harvested wild strawberries nearby. In the summer we had a wigwam tent pitched on the little patch of grass in front of the cottage, and Cynthia and Russell made a den in a ring of fir trees in the spinney behind the cottage. They scoured the hedgerows finding 'treasures' such as enamelled bowls or mugs discarded because they had developed holes, broken crockery (which they pretended were real tea sets). Russell was so sharp-eyed he spotted small arrowheads in the stoney field near the brook, evidence of early occupation of the area by, presumably, stoneage men surviving by hunting, and oyster shells and Roman snails from the time when there had been a Roman Villa nearby. We found fossilised shells from just after the Ice Age when that area would have been covered by the sea. We would have picnics eating jam sandwiches and drinking orange squash, and threw sticks in the stream and watched for them to appear on the other side of the little bridge. Cynthia and Russell were by now attending Chipping Norton Grammar School, riding their bicycles up to the main road to catch the bus, throwing the bicycles into a hedge until their return. Sadly, their education was disadvantaged by the recent war and they suffered too many changes of teachers, but the two of them were clever, bright and resourceful all their lives.

Another upheaval loomed as the time came for Father to go into practice and just as they entered their teenage years we moved from our idyllic setting to a house in Crouch Street in Banbury. Years later I would ask Cynthia and Russell whether they remembered that removal day (at almost six, I did) but they had blanked out the whole thing, which says a lot. One of the worst things was having to leave the much loved dog behind because he belonged to the farmer. It would take time for our father to build up his chiropractic practice and the money situation was desperate. Cynthia being the oldest, had to be sent to work. I remember her working at an insurance office near Banbury Cross and then at a firm called Spencers who made corsets, where she was liked and did well. Then our parents found she could do a nursing course at Shipston-on- Stour and sent her there, where she boarded. This would probably have been mother's idea, seeing it as ideal for Cynthia who had always tended our cats' health needs and had a natural gift for nursing, taking after our maternal grandmother, but I do have reasons to believe that Cynthia interpreted it as being sent away in a sense of rejection. Her sensitive nature reacted to things but she did tend to sit on her feelings and leave them unexpressed.

Cynthia did well at the Ellen Badger Hospital and particularly excelled in the care of the elderly, who loved her. The nurses wore very smart uniforms and Cynthia was taught very high level of hygiene and cleanliness and was throughout her life absolutely fastidious. Through being in Shipston, Cynthia met Graham and eventually married him at the lovely church in Great Tew.

She and Graham moved into the top floor of our parents' house in Banbury and I have fond memories of eating up leftovers of the meals she cooked for Graham, me being a hungry teenager by then! She and Graham eventually moved to a bungalow, and later moved to Helmdon near Brackley. Father was working all hours at his chiropractic and went out on his days off to treat horses. There were few chances for family get-togethers and I do not think many people realise the sacrifice of normal family life which our father's vocation necessitated. Even with him in the house he was with other people, not us, not with his wife. We would really only see him when he popped into the kitchen for a cup of tea, or for his lunch.

Mother, Cynthia and I did not drive, we only saw Cynthia and the family when they came into town for shopping. Cynthia always cared about her hair and her appearance and did the same for their four beautiful daughters, Jacquiline, Belinda, Pamela and Glenys, who all had lovely long hair.

After Cynthia and Graham parted,Cynthia continued to live at Helmdon and took on the family responsibilities and saw them through their education. By then she herself had trained as a chiropractor and began practising, first under supervision when Father fell ill and could no longer work, and then working with Russell and myself to continue our father's practice. Cynthia also helped with our father's chiropractic school. All this was juggled with her home life and the garden she loved. Her children, of course, experienced, as we had, the parent missing when a patient needed emergency help, but they must have been proud of her, as we were of our father, and Cynthia gained great satisfaction from the work, once more using her nurturing, caring skills on patients. She also loved treating animals, with whom she had a natural rapport.

Cynthia had got on well wherever she worked and was popular with her patients who were amazed at her strength and energy, despite her tiny size.She had a lot of wisdom and a spontaneous wit. I remember her telling a patient that her body was a lot older than she was, and being amused at a patient who talked too much and even, as my sister said, answered her own questions!

Cynthia had remarried (to Bob) and, having a bit more time for herself now the children were growing up and making their own lives, she enjoyed live musical events, dancing, travelling abroad, and loved to visit the Isle of Wight where Russell was living by then and would like to have moved there herself. But she had commitments with her daughters marrying and producing grandchildren, so she contented herself with life around them, being naturally matriarchal, centre of her much-loved family. She sewed, she was artistic and gifted at writing, loved creating her home and garden.

These are the qualities, which to me, stand out when I remember my sister: immense loyalty, kindness, truthfulness, intelligence and wit, not giving up, not being afraid to give her all, fiercely independent, generous, devoted to her family.

Cynthia very recently admitted to her doctor that she had done plenty to look after other people, but not really looked after herself. I have a feeling that she would do exactly the same, given her time again.

Cynthia struggled to regain her health after breaking a bone in her neck, which only happened, I believe, because she was so distressed that Russell was in failing health on the Isle of Wight to which she was about to return to help Russell's wife with the situation. Cynthia suffered a serious fall. Typically, she did not give up, and with the help of a major operation she could finally leave off the dreadfully uncomfortable cage she had had to wear to restrict the movement of her neck.

After that she was afraid of further falls and began to go out less. Eventually she suffered a serious brain haemorrhage from which we did not think she would recover. Amazingly she bounced back, but unable to return to her flat, she moved to Cornwall where two of her daughters lived, and applied herself to rehabilitation, learning to do the basics such as speaking, finding the words she wanted, using a knife and fork, etc. She said it was very, very hard work, and it makes me realise I have left a very important word out of the list of her qualities: courage.

Cynthia had, like all of our family, strong views and did not mind expressing them. What she was not good at was expressing her internal feelings, and needs. She could not bear unjust or illogical situations, questioned the wisdom of government and other institutions, and hated any waste she saw, specially in the NHS of recent years and thought that modern hospitals required too much of the nurses, forcing them to walk long distances, which to her should have been considered in the planning.

Cynthia found her later years difficult after being sucha busy person. She could not get up to see lot of her family as she was no longer fit to drive, so this was a rather painful time, though thank goodness for telephones. We are grateful to Little Trefewha Nursing Home for her care and I am very proud of her family for the absolute devotion and support they have given her.

What an upheaval her earlier years had been, much affected by the hardship and struggles her parents had no choice but to endure, and Cynthia and Russell, like many others because of the war, lost their childhood and opportunity to shine when they were young. The undoubted beauty of the area in which we lived was some compensation, only to be removed by the necessity for our father to set up his practice in Banbury.

What has been beautiful to watch, however, has been the recent period where serious ill health set in, but seemed to create in Cynthia a clarity which we have thought she had lost, and a sudden resolution of her complex feelings, so that she opened up and became much easier to love, thrived on cuddles, some of which you felt represented the ones she lacked from early childhood, she spoke her love to individuals in her family and has left behind lasting circles of love. All she needed to learn she had learned, all the love she needed to give and receive, she gave and received. It seemed almost magical and, above all, complete.

My feeling is that Cynthia, after her busy and strenuous life, finally emerged (to borrow the title of a book) 'from Chrysalis to Butterfly'.

Wherever she has flown to (or fluttered), may she rest in peace and light.

Written by Pauline McTimoney 09.07.12
© Pauline McTimoney 2012