ON the anniversaries of the Battle of the Somme (1st July 1916) and the First Battle of El Alamein (1st July 1942) it was fitting that Lt-Col Carl Meyer, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, came to talk to Oswestry Rotary Club members about his work with Armed Forces veterans and the ambitious project for a purpose-built centre in Oswestry to treat them. 

Introducing Carl, Professor Wagih El Masri pointed out that up until 1975 Oswestry was known countrywide as the town nearest to Park Hall Camp, home over many years to thousands of soldiers who passed through its gates. When Professor El Masri came to the Orthopaedic Hospital in 1983 it was for that hospital, which is arguably the foremost orthopaedic hospital in the UK and thus known throughout the world. In an interesting twist Wagih first met Carl aged 3 when he was working with his father in a neurosurgical department in London!

Since 2013 Carl has been working as the Clinical Director for the Veterans Orthopaedic Service, the first of its kind in the UK, which is open to those who have served with the UK military, treating mostly arthritic lower limb problems, especially those requiring hip and knee replacements. This is an NHS service provided exclusively for veterans, and many of the staff are forces personnel themselves, so understand what the veterans have been through. We need not worry that non-Forces patients miss out, because an incredible 84% of people treated at the Orthopaedic Hospital are from the locality! We are so privileged to have such a high quality hospital on our doorstep.

Thanks to satisfied customers singing the praises of their treatment on social media the demand for treatment at the Orthopaedic Hospital has

far outstripped its ability to deliver it.This has led to the launch in October last year of a bold £1.5 million 5-year project to build a purpose-built Veterans Orthopaedic Centre which would free up space in the rest of the hospital for non-Forces patients. Shropshire-born Helen Knight has been appointed as Fundraising Manager and in the next couple of weeks she expects to announce that £240,000 has currently been raised – a good start but a lot more is still required. Funding has come from the League of Friends, Help for Heroes and the RAF Benevolent Fund, among others. 

Lt-Col Meyer said: “Once the building is up the NHS will fund it through the hospital and the Outpatients Department will have more capacity”. 

The Rotary Club of Oswestry gave a cheque for £50 towards the project. President Mark Liquorish: “Thank you Carl for raising our awareness of the excellent work you do at our wonderful Orthopaedic Hospital. We are giving you our support to help you to help even more Forces personnel in the future through the completion of this ambitious project”. 

If you would like to support this appeal you can contact Helen Knight by email: rjah.fundraising@nhs.net.