A LEADING surgeon from Sunderland Royal Hospital has spoken of his pride after being recognised in the New Year Honours.
Consultant vascular surgeon Ben Banerjee has been handed a Queen’s Volunteer Reserves Medal for his work with the Royal Army Medical Corps.
His service for more than 20 years has seen him travel to war zones in Bosnia and Afghanistan and he was thrilled to be awarded the medal, which is to recognise exemplary service and devotion to duty.
Mr Banerjee, who is the son of Dr Ram Banerjee, OBE, who used to run Sunderland District General Hospital’s A&E department, said: “I just found out the day before and I was absolutely gobsmacked.”
As Lieutenant Colonel Banerjee, the surgeon said he is hugely proud of the achievement, but said he has only been able to continue with the volunteer military service, which he loves, because of the backing of his family, City Hospitals Sunderland and his colleagues who share his workload while he is away on tour.
He said: “This award has been a wonderful surprise and a great honour for my family and I.
“It recognises the many parts that make up a reserve soldier, that being, the soldier, their family and both military and civilian colleagues without whose support this award would not be possible.”
Mr Banerjee joined the Army Reserves in 1990 while studying at Newcastle University and has been deployed to Bosnia, Kosovo and three times to Afghanistan, where in 2013 he served as the first reservist Deployed Medical Director.
And, in June last year he was appointed Clinical Director of Adaptive Forces (designate) at 2 Medical Brigade, responsible for the ongoing medical training of reservists in the post-Afghanistan period.
The 47-year-old, who lives in Newcastle, is married to Helen and has two children, is also a Clinical Honorary Senior Lecturer for Newcastle University Medical School.
A City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said: “We are delighted for Ben – it is another honour for him and his family, for the trust, and for the people of Sunderland, for whom he has provided such dedicated service.
“The Banerjees have a long history of commitment to the local NHS – his father Ram was a well-known head of A&E for many years, and his mother a long-standing local GP. Ben’s honour will be shared by all his family, by the staff at City Hospitals, by his patients, and particularly by those British Army colleagues with whom he served overseas.”