The ‘Flying Doctor’ from Lurgan, Dr Fred MacSorley, who helped to save many lives at the roadside over the last 30 years, is now undertaking a new challenge in his retirement covering some 313k in an intensive multisport race in aid of charity Air Ambulance Northern Ireland (AANI).
Fred and his fellow Apollo Cycling Club member and longstanding friend, Derek King, will set off from Enniscrone Co Sligo and race their way across Ireland in the ‘Coast to Coast’ challenge on 19 and 20 May 2018. Known as one of the toughest multi-sport races in Ireland and Europe, it involves running across a beach, cycling along deserted roads, paddling one of the longest sections of inland waterways, finishing with a marathon walk through the Mourne mountains to Newcastle.
Last year Dr Fred, after 35 years working as a GP in Lurgan, officially retired but still provides the practice with occasional holiday cover. At the end of the 2017 motorcycle racing season he stepped down from the role of travelling motorcycle doctor after 30 years with the Ulster Motorcycle Medical Team. On New Year’s day this year he undertook his last emergency call from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) attending a road traffic collision as BASICS doctor call sign Delta 3, bringing to an end 30 years of voluntary service assisting local Ambulance and Fire and Rescue crews at countless incidents.
Doctor Fred, as he is known, said “Over a lifetime I have had the privilege of working with so many wonderful colleagues in situations of great difficulty, be it paramedics, medical colleagues, fire crews and police officers at road crashes or paramedics, doctors, marshals and race officials at motorcycle races. We all have a common aim to do our very best for those unfortunate to find themselves or their loved ones in critical life changing situations.
“For decades I attended incidents often as the sole doctor working in places remote from hospital care so I am very relieved we now have a helicopter service to deliver a top class team to the patient, anywhere in Northern Ireland, within minutes. I pay homage to the inspirational Dr John Hinds who did so much to improve the quality of care delivered to those critically ill outside hospital. He recognised the great benefits of having a specialist doctor alongside a paramedic on board any medical helicopter service. The AANI helicopter is a shining example of a wonderful service, doing such a good job without fuss and making a real difference to the people of Northern Ireland.
“Before Christmas my good friend Derek suggested we do an adventure race together. When I realised it was to run over the North West 200 weekend it just seemed right to raise funds for the helicopter ambulance service, such a wonderful cause.”
Air Ambulance Northern Ireland (AANI) is the local charity working in partnership with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service to providing the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) for Northern Ireland. The service brings urgent highly advanced medical assistance to trauma patients anywhere in the province, operating seven days a week for 12 hours per day. It can get to anywhere in Northern Ireland in approximately twenty-five minutes.
Operational lead for the service Glenn O’Rorke, said: “Doctor Fred made an invaluable contribution to saving lives through his work and we recognise this massive contribution. He has been to our base in Lisburn and indeed many of our medical team have worked alongside Doctor Fred over the years. It’s fantastic that he has now decided to fundraise and help keep the helicopter flying.”
Air Ambulance NI needs to raise £2million each year to maintain this service so public donations are crucial. If you would like to support Fred and Derek in their efforts for AANI or you would like to support the charity in another way, you can do so online at www.airambulanceni.org or call 028 9262 2677.