Top Rotarian: Doc honoured for service

2012-11-19 00:00

DR Neil McKerrow, a paediatrician from Grey’s Hospital, was recently honoured with a Vocational Service Award by the Rotary Club of Pietermaritzburg.

This was to recognise a life devoted to his vocation as a specialist paediatrician.

“I’m embarrassed,” McKerrow joked about receiving the award. He said he was just doing his job. “One comes to work; you do what you have to do … and if you’re lucky, you make a difference. If you’re not, you get a little depressed, go home and you weep in your pillow and get up the next day.”

McKerrow, who has dedicated his life to child development and health, said he just happened to be at the right place at the right time.

He started working as a paediatrician at Edendale hospital more than 20 years ago.

“I arrived at the right time with a young occupational therapist, and we started looking at more appropriate care for children who were abandoned in hospitals.”

That is how Thandanani Children’s Foundation was born.

The non-profit organisation was founded as a way of giving abandoned children a chance at a normal life.

Now his main focus is child deaths and he is the chairperson of the ministerial review committee on child mortality.

He believes that “children must survive to develop and become individuals who can contribute to society”.

For McKerrow, working with children is not just a job; it is something that he finds rewarding, which is the reason he decided to go into the profession.

“They [children] give meaning to life.”

The big-hearted doctor, who has been a blessing to many children, has been blessed with two children of his own.

“They are wonderful and they are very important,” he said, adding that although they do lots of mischief, they are always forgiven.

Because of his busy work schedule, McKerrow feels he has neglected his children, but that has not stopped him from playing his role as a father and teaching them some valuable lessons.

“If you work hard you can make a difference, and I hope, although I’m not sure, [I have taught them] a sense of social responsibility.”

On top of everything else, McKerrow still manages to dedicate at least 30 minutes of his time to reading before going to bed.

“You have to relax and switch off.”

He also keeps busy by collecting South African stamps because “they commemorate South African culture, achievements and they tell a story”.

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