A MUCH-loved and marvellous Basingstoke medic, who has made a life-changing difference to so many lives, has retired from his full-time role – but he shows little sign of slowing down.
Consultant anaesthetist Keith Thomson, who has made headlines in The Gazette and nationally for his selfless work in Africa, retired last week after spending nearly 20 years working at Basingstoke hospital.
However, typically, the energetic 66-year-old will not be taking it easy – he plans to remain working at the hospital and Wexham Park hospital, in Slough, as part of their banks of staff, and also plans to set up a scheme to help train medics in Sierra Leone.
Dr Keith, as he is known, has recently become a grandfather for the first time and also hopes to spend more time with his family.
He said: “I don’t like to think of it as retiring – more just moving in a different direction.
“My revalidation date is this month and I hope to keep up my registration so I can practice here and in Africa. I will still be working – I just won’t be full-time.”
Scores of his colleagues, past and present, attended Dr Keith’s retirement party last Thursday.
The consultant took the opportunity to use his retirement to showcase the work he has done with charity Mercy Ships and to encourage others to get involved.
In his talk ‘Africa – Why Bother?’, he highlighted the many lives he has saved and improved over the many years he has been involved in the charity.
Mercy Ships works to provide health care in some of the poorest parts of the world and Dr Keith takes regular trips to Africa on life-saving missions.
He said: “There are two schools of thought about it really. Some people say the problem is just too large – that you’re not going to be able to make a real difference.
“But I know you can make a difference, to individuals at least, and that difference, for them, can be the difference between life and death.”
Dr Keith is hoping to set up a scheme in which senior registrars from Basingstoke hospital will travel to Africa and hold conferences, training medics there in the latest techniques and educating them about best practice.
Dr Keith, who lives in Ascot, added: “Education is really key. It’s the best way to make a real difference.”
And, true to form, just two days after his retirement, he travelled to the continent on a Mercy Ships mission and he also plans to continue to fundraise for charity.
Last year, he ran the London Marathon and raised thousands in the process. He said: “I’m always on the go and that’s how I like it. Retirement does not mean you have to stop.”