Sarah grew up in a small town in Devon and applied to study medicine at Bristol. However, she didn’t want to go straight from school to university so took a gap year (before they were trendy!) and got a scholarship to spend the year working in healthcare in Pakistan. It was this experience of being immersed in a foreign culture that changed her world view for life. Following this, she went on to study medicine and train in plastic surgery with the expectation that she would be involved in work overseas further on.
Towards the end of her training Sarah took 2 years out to live and work in Nepal, taking her young family with me. She learned the language and lived in a local village setting on the outskirts of Pokhora, working across 2 sites. The work involved correcting burns contractures, treating the effects of leprosy, operating on severe pressure sores and overseeing the local government burns unit. This experience helped Sarah to assess what was helpful in terms of interventions from wealthy nations and it became clear to her that the key to building a sustainable service was by working with local surgeons to empower them and facilitate training for them.
On returning to the UK, Sarah completed her plastic surgery training and subsequently joined the BFIRST committee. She had just settled into my consultant post at Oxford when the Nepal earthquake happened in 2015. She carried out a scoping visit on behalf of BAPRAS and forged strong links with the plastic surgery team out in Kathmandu. Sarah has visited them regularly to provide training and support as directed by them ever since. As a result of listening to what the Nepali surgeons felt they needed, she negotiated the development of global fellowships with BFIRST where surgeons go for an extended period to spend time with star performing surgeons in a setting that equips them with the skills and experience for the work in a resource poor setting.