A British doctor nicknamed “the Indiana Jones of surgery” for the risks he takes to save others in war zones around the world has won the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award.
Consultant surgeon Dr David Nott spends months every year volunteering with Medecins Sans Frontieres and the International Committee of the Red Cross, taking him to countries such as Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Libya and Syria.
He also works at the Royal Marsden, St Mary’s and Chelsea and Westminster Hospitals but has now established the David Nott Foundation, a UK registered charity that provides surgeons and medical professionals with the skills they need to provide relief and assistance in conflict and natural disaster zones around the world.
The Burns Award was created to recognise the efforts of people who help change lives for the better in often desperate situations.
Organisers say it takes its inspiration from Robert Burns who viewed everyone as equal and lived as a true humanitarian, as recognised in his famous line: “That Man to Man, the world o’er, Shall brothers be for a’ that.” Dr Nott was presented with the award by international Development Minister Humza Yousaf at the Brig O’Doon Hotel in Alloway, South Ayrshire, close to Burns’ birthplace.
Dr Nott said: “You know that you’re taking a risk when you do this type of humanitarian work, but once you’re out there and saving the lives of people – including children and teenagers the world has forgotten about – you just focus on getting the job done and try to forget about what’s going on around you.
“It is difficult – there’s no doubt – but when you can see that you can make a very real difference, you simply cannot turn your back and that’s why I’m particularly pleased to have established the Foundation to keep that work going.
“I’m very grateful for this award and it will remind me, every day, why we do what we do.”
Previous winners include Khalil Dale, the Red Cross worker killed in Pakistan, Karen Graham, a Scots nurse working in Libya during the civil unrest, and Linda Norgrove, an aid worker killed in Afghanistan. Mr Yousaf said: “David Nott is a truly worthy winner and an inspiration to others. As a volunteer with Medecins Sans Frontieres and the International Committee of the Red Cross, he has performed life-saving surgery in desperate circumstances in areas such as Darfur/Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Chad and Syria.
“Now in its 15th year, the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award continues to be one of the highlights of Scotland’s Winter Festivals programme, which draws to a close on Burns Night.
“Scots and the Scottish-at-heart will be celebrating Robert Burns the world over this weekend and I would encourage everyone to take the time to honour the life of our Bard and his enduring message of humanitarianism, egalitarianism and equality.”