An Evening with David Nott OBE

This term’s Medley Lecture was given by David Nott OBE, consultant surgeon, author of War Doctor and co-founder of the David Nott Foundation,

1 July 2021

David Nott OBE OStJ FRCS works as a consultant surgeon at St Mary’s Hospital and the Royal Marsden Hospital in London. For the last 25 years, David has also volunteered to work in disaster and war zones treating patients and training local medics and surgeons. He is also the author of the best selling memoir, War Doctor, the vivid and humbling story of his work in some of the world’s most dangerous war zones.

In his virtual talk, David spoke of his early life and his journey to study Medicine at the University of Manchester, and then to qualify as a general and vascular surgeon. He went on to tell the extraordinary story of how he then chose to volunteer to work as a medic in the most challenging conditions in conflicts in Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Darfur, Congo, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Gaza and Syria as well as in the aftermath of natural disasters, such as the earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal. What he quickly realised was that it simply wasn’t enough to fly into a catastrophe and carry out life-saving operations but that local doctors needed to be trained to treat the appalling injuries that war and natural disasters inflict on their victims. That became his mission and ultimately led him to establish the David Nott Foundation in 2015.

Each year, the Sixth Form houses choose a charity to raise funds for and the David Nott Foundation was proposed by Lower Sixth girl, Eleanor – here she tells us how that came about.

I have always been interested in Medicine and when I was in the Lower Fourth, David Nott performed surgery on my father. At the time I didn’t know what else David did, I just thought that he was pretty cool because he was a surgeon!

My father kept in touch with David and a few years later, we contacted David’s charity, the David Nott Foundation, to see if there was a possibility for me to do some work experience with them. I was lucky enough to attend two days of one of David’s courses which train medics from all around the world how to treat patients injured in war zones and the aftermath of natural disasters. Talking to David made me realise how oblivious we are in the UK to the importance of healthcare and how we are so lucky to have the NHS. I am so glad that David was able to share his story with us; hearing it again was just as impactful as the first time. It really does show that with drive, determination and enthusiasm, you can make such a difference to the world. Thank you to Mrs Toogood, Mrs Hill and Mr McClymont for helping with the organisation; it could not have been done without you!

The David Nott Foundation is the current Willis House chosen charity and the girls have set up a JustGiving page to raise money for the Foundation. At the end of term, the girls did a ten-mile sponsored walk to raise funds and if you would like to support them, please donate here.

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