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Mercy Ships

624. Dr Tony Giles
625. Ann Giles

Dr Tony and Ann Giles, from Bedford, are two of the longest serving UK volunteers for Mercy Ships, the world’s largest charitable floating hospital providing medical care to some of the world’s poorest people.

Tony, an Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon, and Ann, a Nurse, have together performed over 2,000 operations in 10 different African countries the last 20 years – including cleft lip and palate surgeries on children, facial and jaw reconstructions on civil war victims in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and removal of massive benign facial tumours which, if left untreated, would cause death. Ann initiated a palliative care programme on board the Mercy Ship for those with inoperable conditions.

Ann and Tony also pioneered a land-based screening programme to identify those in need of surgical attention who can then travel to the anchored Mercy Ship for the life-saving surgeries the floating Hospital provides.

Ann and Tony have recently returned from a 3 week trip to Dreamland Mission Hospital in Western Kenya, where their Team broke their record for the number of cleft lip and palate patients treated.

In a personal letter to Dr Tony and Ann, Prime Minister Theresa May said:

“The thousands of free surgeries you have performed, and the medical care you continue to provide through Mercy Ships is transforming lives across Africa. You should be very proud that your innovative land-based screening programme also means that the world’s largest civilian hospital can now provide care to those in the remotest regions.”

Dr Tony and Ann said:

“We have really valued the opportunities that volunteering with Mercy Ships has given us over the last 20 years. It is a wonderful organisation and has opened our eyes to the many problems experienced by those born in the developing world as well as to the many possibilities to serve people in a significant way.

We have been motivated not only by the tremendous needs we have seen, but also by the selflessness of those we have been able to work alongside in ten African countries. This selflessness has also been evident in the work of several Organisations we have been able to partner with over the years, causing us to especially focus our efforts on those who, like Mercy Ships, are really accomplishing something special.

In recent years we have been especially inspired by working alongside Hope Medical Centre in ebola-devastated Guinea and Dreamland Mission Hospital in poorly resourced rural Kenya. In both those situations we have also partnered with The Smile Train, another worthy charity.

We have just returned from Kenya and gather that tiny Dreamland Hospital is now the second most prolific Smile Train partner in Kenya for treating cleft lip and palate patients! We have learned the importance of working in teams, seeing opportunities and passing on skills. This enables others to do what we have done when we are not there, and we are learning in the process an important aim: to make ourselves unnecessary!”

Lea Milligan, Executive Director of Mercy Ships UK, said:

“Tony and Ann are a truly extraordinary couple and have dedicated so much of their lives to helping the forgotten poor across West Africa receive the medical care they deserve.

“Volunteering with Mercy Ships for over 20 years, Tony and Ann have played an integral part in treating thousands of patients on board our floating hospital, as well as in land-based rural hospitals, and for that we will be eternally grateful.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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