Family ties central to doctor’s honour

Duty race Doctors Alistair Murray and Fred McSorley enjoying the North West 200 road races.'Pic Gavan Caldwell
Duty race Doctors Alistair Murray and Fred McSorley enjoying the North West 200 road races.'Pic Gavan Caldwell

DR FRED MacSorley’s career-long commitment to improving the lives of others has led to an appearance on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

However, the Lurgan-based GP puts his MBE award down to family support and crucial backing from a network of colleagues.

Dr MacSorley - the 1999 Northern Ireland Doctor of the Year - has been the driving force behind a series of innovative ideas designed to enhance and improve the standard of medical care across the country.

Recognition of this commitment to healthcare in Northern Ireland may have arrived in the form of the MBE but Dr MacSorley is quick to pass on the credit.

“As much as it is a wonderful honour and I feel very privileged, my wife is probably more deserving given her understanding over the years,” he said. “Alexandra is also a doctor so understands my motivation and has been a constant support.

“At times, I have been called away from the dinner table or had to disappear late at night.

“Alexandra was always patient and it has only worked thanks to our partnership.

“My children, David, Peter and Allister, have also accepted those outside commitments.

“I think my work ethic stems from my parents, Michael and Margaret, plus I come from a medical family in Belfast so have just followed that example.

“Although based in Lurgan since 1992, I work a lot with people in Portadown in terms of the emergency services or even at the Tandragee 100 motorcycling meeting as a travelling doctor in road racing.

“I prefer to help in a practical way, rather than organising or as a leader, then move aside at the right time and allow others with greater skills to step forward and continue on with a certain project.”

Dr MacSorley’s previous achievements over 30 years in medicine include playing a key role in establishing a support network of GPs offering pre-hospital care at road traffic sites, providing medical advice to cave and mountain rescue teams, working with the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, encouraging self-defence tuition for doctors and travelling to motorcycling meetings across the country as a race doctor.

“Everything has developed, thankfully, over the years and the level of training across the board is excellent,” he said. “However, back in the 1980s I used to go out with the ambulance drivers to try and help at road traffic incidents.

“I developed an interest during a course in England and discovered we did not really have anything in place within Northern Ireland.

“Back then, in the days before mobile phones, it was a case of the ambulance phoning my surgery or home, then I progressed to working off a pager.

“I just try to identify certain areas which may need a system put in place.

“I have been very fortunate in terms of support, not just from family members but also my professional partners, the receptionist staff in Lurgan and even my patients.

“People around help me stay organised and on top of everything, plus I still enjoy the work and find it very rewarding.

“It is far from a one-man band but certainly I am very proud and delighted with my MBE.”