Successor to build on burns legacy as Valley Parade fire disaster surgeon retires (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Successor pays tribute to retiring fire disaster surgeon Professor David Sharpe
Ajay Mahajan (right) with Paul Wilkinson, who organsied a Bradford Burns Unit fundraising event for his 50th birthday
The surgeon who helped make Bradford a pioneer in plastic surgery and burns treatment following the 1985 Valley Parade fire disaster has retired.
Professor David Sharpe was praised by his successor, consultant surgeon Ajay Mahajan, at a fundraising event for the Bradford Burns Research Unit.
Mr Mahajan said Prof Sharpe’s groundbreaking work was the main reason he moved to Bradford.
The fundraising dinner, which was held at Valley Parade, was arranged by football fan Paul Wilkinson, who wanted his 50th birthday party to raise money for a good cause.
He planned a race night in aid of the Bradford University-based burns unit and its work for victims of the tragedy which cost 56 lives and left many others with terrible injuries at a match between Bradford City and Lincoln City in May 1985.
Mr Wilkinson said: “I have always been passionate about football. What happened in 1985 was a real tragedy which has stayed close to my heart. I wanted to raise more funds and keep the profile of the unit high.
Prof Sharpe led the surgical response to the fire disaster. He helped treat 25 burns victims in the immediate aftermath and he and his team operated on more than 20 people in the first few hours. Some 80 patients needed skin grafts. He described the work as “difficult and stressful”.
The burns research unit at the University was formed to build on the revolutionary techniques used by Prof Sharpe and his team and, as its director, he helped make Bradford a leader for research into plastic surgery.
The unit, which gets no public funding, is now secure for some years to come following a Telegraph & Argus-backed appeal which raised more than £167,000.
Mr Mahajan, who was previously the deputy director of research at the unit. said taking over from Prof Sharpe would be a “challenge” but he added: “I am happy to take it on.
“I moved to Bradford just three years ago and one of the main reasons for moving here was the established burns unit. It is a luxury for a city to have a dedicated burns unit, and it is a privilege to run it.
“Prof Sharpe is responsible for all of this, no doubt about it. He had a major role in making it what it is today and has left a huge legacy.”
Mr Wilkinson raised more than £1,000 for the unit through his event on Friday night, and people can still donate by visiting WWW.justgiving.com/Paul-Wilkinson19.
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