Pioneering Children’s Hospital plastic surgeon, Miss Ruth Lester OBE, has officially been awarded her well-deserved honour from Her Majesty the Queen.
Ruth, who has helped thousands of young people across the world with hand and upper limb abnormalities enjoyed “an unforgettable day” at Buckingham Palace on Thursday 11 October.
She received the news of the prestigious award, which recognised her commitment to developing a specialist service, which has helped thousands of patients and families since it was first set up in the early 1990s.
Since arriving at the Children’s Hospital in 2000 Miss Lester continued to develop and grow the unique multi-disciplinary service, which combines the expertise of orthopaedic surgeons, neurologists, radiologists, geneticists, therapists, psychologists and many others in one place, at one time, to improve the all-round care these young patients receive.
Not only that, but the introduction of holistic care in the form of dedicated camps for those with congenital hand conditions and coffee mornings for parents have greatly improved the mental health and wellbeing of these children, young people and families.
Miss Lester and her team recognised the importance of bringing together families whose lives are affected by these rare conditions, understanding the need for care beyond their physical disability or condition. By doing so, self-esteem is greatly improved as well as emotional and psychological health.
From seeing 200 children at the turn of the millennium, today the team cares for and supports more than 600 young people each year.
Her expertise and commitment have not only improved the lives of children in the UK but across the globe too. Internationally respected, she has also developed guidelines and care models which have been used as a framework for worldwide guidelines. She’s also led the way in setting up national data collection initiatives to help identify the surgical outcomes of hand injuries throughout the UK, aiming to raise these standards.
Beyond her clinical work, Miss Lester has established a dedicated fund under the umbrella of Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity called the Children’s Hands and Arms (CHARMS) charity. This raises funds to support special training for staff, continue holistic approaches to care and hopes to create a dedicated centre within the hospital.
She has also volunteered in Zanzibar, improving the regulations around circumcision and urological conditions in young boys. She has initiated technical improvements in the technique of circumcision and has begun the process of formal registration for those carrying out these procedures.
Mother of three, Miss Ruth Lester OBE, said:
“It was an unforgettable day. To receive the honour from Her Majesty the Queen herself is an indescribable feeling – she was simply astonishing. To have my children and sister with me at Buckingham Palace made it an experience of a lifetime.
“It’s been an absolute privilege to have been fortunate enough to work in a job that I love and be part of such an incredible team. My honour does truly reflect the work of my many colleagues over the years who have made such a difference, particularly those at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.”
Despite being in retirement, Ruth continues to work closely with the Hand and Upper Limb team non-clinically and is a Trustee of the Birmingham Women’s and Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charities.
She is also involved in a network of clinicians aiming to improve the diagnosis and early treatment of arthrogryposis, a disabling congenital condition which often results in multiple limb deformities.