He delivered half of the town’s babies, saved countless lives and held the hands of many as they passed away.
Now the Rural Doctors Association of NSW (RDANSW) has presented Dr Ramaswamy Thangavelu (Dr Velu), aged 86, with the Bill Hunter Award for providing rural healthcare to the Crookwell community for 50 years.
The Bill Hunter Award is granted for exceptional service by a rural doctor who exemplifies all the attributes of rural generalism to their community in NSW.
“Dr Thangavelu exemplifies all the attributes of a great rural generalist doctor,” said RDANSW president Dr Charles Evill. “He has only recently, this year, finished working as a visiting medical officer (VMO) at Crookwell District Hospital – where he worked for 45 years – and he continues to provide GP services in his town.
“During his time as a VMO, he provided obstetrics and general surgery services and also worked in accident and emergency. In his early years on-call, he was often the only doctor on call, every day.”
The Crookwell community came out in droves to farewell Dr Thangavelu on his last day at the hospital in early July, 2020, to show their gratitude for his long-standing service to the hospital.
Dr Joanna Kovats, also a GP VMO in Crookwell, nominated Dr Thangavelu for the prestigious award.
“He is a brilliant teacher and generous mentor,” she said. “He is a rural solo GP – still practicing at 86 years old. Dr Thangavelu has actively taught medical students from the Australian National University, the University of Sydney and through the John Flynn Placement Program.”
While Dr Thangavelu no longer practices at the hospital, he remains a GP at his private practice in Crookwell.
He has also contributed to his community outside of medicine as an active Rotarian, including taking on the local Rotary Club president’s role twice and squeezing in some tennis in his younger days.
Dr Thangavelu’s wife, Chandra, is the practice’s manager who is very proud of her husband’s achievements, and she has provided valued support throughout Dr Thangavelu’s career.