INSPIRATIONAL retired anaesthetist Dr Keith Thompson gave a motivational talk about his involvement with Mercy Ships to The Royal School.

Mercy Ships is a faith-based international development organisation that deploys hospital ships to some of the poorest countries in the world, delivering vital, free healthcare to people in desperate need.

Dr Thomson spoke with great kindness and humility about the agency’s humanitarian work.

A grand total of 82,000 operations have taken place on board the Mercy Ships since 1978 and over 594 ports have been visited.

All the doctors and medical personnel involved are volunteers, working to improve the lives and opportunities for those in the developing world, who would otherwise not have access to surgery or medical care of this kind.

The ships are entirely staffed by self-funding medical and non-medical professionals.

Using video and slides, Dr Thomson described his long involvement with Mercy Ships, dating back to 1990, which he called a “God-given opportunity.”

Over the last 20 years, he has taken leave, sometimes unpaid, to spend two to three weeks on a Mercy Ship every year. Dr Thompson is now a trustee of Mercy Ships and very enthusiastic about a multi million pound new ship that is being built in China.

He charted the history of the charity from its inception in 1978, when the Anastasis became the first Mercy Ship, and was converted into a mobile hospital, housing three state-of-the-art operating theatres, a 40-bed hospital ward, a dental clinic, a laboratory, an X-ray unit, and three cargo holds, to the present day, when a new and biggest yet Mercy Ship, the Global Mercy, is under construction.

Dr Thompson told of his experiences aboard the Africa Mercy and shared with pupils, parents and staff the stories of some of those whose lives had been changed by the removal of disfiguring tumours, by the provision of cataract surgery or by the mending of cleft palates.

School principal Anne Lynch, said: “It was heart-warming to hear of how many of those who had received this help then went on to fulfil their educational potential and give back to the organisation, themselves working as volunteers aboard the Mercy Ships.

“Dr Thompson encouraged our pupils to learn, earn and return – a message which they will certainly take to heart.”