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The 2022 PCDS Lifetime Achievement Award: A tribute to Dr Pam Brown

Clare Hambling
PCDS Chair, Clare Hambling, pays tribute to Pam Brown, winner of the 2022 PCDS Lifetime Achievement Award.

One of the highlights of the PCDS National Conference in November is the opportunity to honour someone who has made an extraordinary contribution to diabetes, with the PCDS Lifetime Achievement Award. As she handed over the reins as joint Editor-in-Chief of Diabetes & Primary Care, it seemed only fitting that our winner in 2022 should be Dr Pam Brown.

Pam is a remarkable person, a caring and compassionate doctor whose scope of practice, experience and expertise reaches far beyond that of any ordinary General Practitioner. Throughout her career, she has inspired many and continues to do so. Pam has been brave enough to take opportunities and to follow her passions, which is not easy to do in the world of medicine but, for those who dare, undoubtedly offers the potential for a rich and rewarding career, as well as opportunities beyond the clinical sphere. Indeed, it was meeting healthcare professionals like Pam that gave me the courage to reduce my sessions in general practice, to follow my passion and to develop a specialist interest in diabetes.

Pam graduated from the University of Edinburgh BSc, MBChB, but her passion for education and learning did not stop there. She has an intriguing array of postgraduate qualifications across multiple disciplines, including a Master’s in Business Administration, postgraduate diplomas in Therapeutics, Diabetes and Sports Medicine, and a Master’s in Nutritional Medicine. Consequently, her career has taken her down many different pathways and, of course, that may be at least in part the secret of her success in exuding passion and interest in everything she does.

As a clinician, Pam has delivered clinical care in general practice alongside developing her special interests. She has delivered care and education in diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, preventative medicine and sports medicine at practice, local, national and international levels.

Her skills as writer, journalist and editor have ensured that we have all benefited from her knowledge, wisdom and expertise, as she has followed the emerging evidence, rapidly assimilating and interpreting the important messages and presenting them for us to read and understand. She is a former Editor of Mims Magazine, a publication that many of us will have read and relied on to keep up to date, and of course Diabetes & Primary Care, as well as Diabetes Distilled, which have become relied-on sources for education and information in primary care diabetes. For me, it was a privilege to work with Pam recently as co-author of the Fast Facts: Type 2 Diabetes book, but the truth is that, without Pam’s expertise, this might not have been possible.

As a trainer, educator, mentor and appraiser, Pam has taught and encouraged hundreds of healthcare professionals and students from all over the world, supporting professional development and fostering others to develop specialist interests in rheumatology and sports medicine, as well as diabetes and cardiometabolic disease. Her expertise has been called upon by many expert groups, including, amongst others, national advisory boards, Public Health Wales, Health Education Wales and NICE. Without question, many people will have benefited from Pam’s contributions.

Pam is quiet and humble, never one to shout about her achievements and accomplishments, yet her preparedness to follow her passions and to develop her portfolio means that she has contributed in ways that many of us simply cannot. We all know Pam as a primary care specialist in diabetes, nutrition and cardiometabolic medicine, but her interest in sport and sports medicine has taken her to remarkable heights internationally, serving as Team Doctor for the Welsh Elite Triathlon team 2002–2010, for the Wales team at two Commonwealth Games – in Manchester in 2002 and again in Melbourne in 2006 – and for the European Ryder Cup team in 2010. This must have been a very special experience for her because I know that golf is a particular passion.

It has been a privilege and honour to work with and learn from Pam over the years. Always approachable and available when needed, her guidance has been invaluable to me, whether as a co-author, a mentor, or as Chair of PCDS, and despite the fact that we live hundreds of miles apart, she has become a trusted friend. The respect she has earned from colleagues is such that the Committee was unanimous in deciding that she should be the recipient of the 2022 PCDS Lifetime Achievement Award, and it was fitting that Pam was presented with her award by PCDS Co-Vice Chair and her Co-Editor-in-Chief, Jane Diggle.

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