Norwich couple's flying doctors dream takes off
2007: Two Norwich medics have launched their flying doctors charity Mercy Flyers in the city on June 16 and within weeks leave their jobs to travel out to Zambia to start work.
Craig and Rae Oranmore-Brown
(pictured right), have spent the last few years fund-raising and training to achieve their dream of using aircraft to help provide vitally needed medical services in remote parts of Africa.
Their dream has been realized with the official launch of the charity at the King’s Centre in Norwich with around 40 supporters in attendance.
Craig is a consultant in Emergency Medicine in the Emergency Assessment unit at the Norfolk and Norwich University hospital. He also works as a consultant in Anaesthesia and Critical Care at the James Paget hospital in Gorleston and is a qualified pilot. Rae is a junior doctor at the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds and trained at the Norfolk & Norwich.
The charity aims to use aircraft to fly specialist doctors, including some from East Anglian hospitals, to rural hospitals around Southern Africa where they have the facilities to perform vital operations but no qualified staff to undertake them. Poor roads and large distances mean that a light aircraft is the only way to reach many ill people.
They will also attend the Old Buckenham airshow on June 24 along with supporters and then, in July, fly off to Zambia to start work.
Craig said: “Twelve years ago we were working in mission hospitals in South Africa and became acutely aware of the vast need for doctors to be involved in helping rural hospitals. Further research trips undertaken in southern Africa revealed three areas: the need for specialist input for complicated medical conditions, continuing medical education and support for doctors and provision of appropriate medical equipment.
“Further medical training was required for both of us, so we packed our bags and came to the UK to undertake this training.”
Mercy Flyers is working with Health Help International (HHI), Flyspec, Flying Mission and the Dove Trust to achieve their goals.
HHI is already working in Zambia and has generously offered to build Mercy Flyers a base in Monze on land that the local chief has given them.
Flyspec, which is supported by the Dutch government, has offered use of an aircraft when they are not using it. Flying Mission has also offered to help with flights.
Dove Trust is providing the accounting and business management. Norwich pilot and aviation engineer Sam Lee has offered to provide an old aircraft and rebuild it using young volunteers.
A group of Norfolk trustees has helped launch the charity. They include accountant Steve Ham, Norwich consultant anaesthetist Jonathan Payne, accounts manager Sylvia Hemmings and business manager Gary Hemmings.
Craig and Rae, who attend Norwich Vineyard church, have themselves raised around £2,500 by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro last year. Their Christian faith is a large part of what has inspired them to establish the charity.
“I believe that God gave us a mandate in life and it is our duty to commit our lives to achieve it, or die trying,” said Craig. “I feel that if I can’t change the world in which I live for the better, what is the point in me being here?”