The founder of Cumbria’s BEEP Doctors charity has been honoured with a lifetime achievement award.
Dr Theo Weston, who lives near Penrith, was recognised and awarded for launching the group 30 years ago and acting as its chair and an active responder since, as well as playing an active role with other emergency charities.
The British Association for Immediate Care presented him with the award at a ceremony at the BASICS’ annual conference. He said: ““I am completely bowled over and really honoured and humbled to receive this award. It means such a lot to me and I am really proud to have received it.”
Cumbria’s BEEP Doctors, who are all volunteers, provide enhanced pre-hospital emergency care. They work closely with the police and fire services, North West Ambulance Service, Great North Air Ambulance Service and North West Air Ambulance.
During an incident, BEEP Doctors can carry out some surgical procedures, such as inserting chest drains and some can perform pre-hospital anaesthetics and all are able to administer drugs that most road crew paramedics cannot, such as ketamine or fentanyl to give pain relief and allow fracture manipulation.
Many of the emergencies they attend are road traffic collisions, as well as incidents involving farms, pushbikes, horses and water.
The BEEP Fund, as it was then called, was founded by Dr Weston in 1984 and replaced the Penrith and District Accident Scheme, which had been jointly set up by his father, Peter – an accident and emergency consultant – and Dr Hugh Barr.
Over the years it has grown from just operating around the Penrith area to covering the whole of Cumbria, with 12 doctors now involved. The name was then changed to BEEP Doctors (BASICS) Cumbria.
Highlighting recent funding from Sellafield’s Social Impact Fund and organisations such as Rotary and the Freemasons, Dr Weston said: “We rely 100 per cent on charitable donations.
“We now have three response vehicles and every doctor has blue lights and sirens fitted to their own cars.”
Over the years Dr Weston has carried out thousands of hours of voluntary work for the BEEP Doctors, including attending two to three call-outs each week, plus administration and talks to groups in the county.
He added: “I do it primarily because of the huge joy and reward to see people arriving at hospital in a better condition than they would otherwise have been in.
“There have been cases where people might not have made it to hospital if we had not been there, or they would have been in even more of a poorly state which would have affected them for the rest of their lives.
“In around 2020 a farmer at Gamblesby ended up 90 per cent chopping off his left forearm in a silage machine. I attended and was able to reposition the arm into where it should be, splint it and gave him some serious pain relief he would not have been able to have otherwise.
“I escorted him in the ambulance to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary where the forearm was reattached and he made an almost complete recovery and can still work on the farm.”
Dr Weston grew up at Raughton Head, between Penrith and Carlisle and attended primary school at Dalston and secondary school in York.
He gained a Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery at Charing Cross Medical School before undergoing further training at hospitals in Canterbury and Northampton.
For about seven years he served as a doctor on expeditions around the world with the Jubilee Trust and British Schools Exploring Society before joining the Birkbeck Medical Practice at the health centre in Penrith as a full-time partner in 1992. He retired from the practice six years ago but still does locum work in the area.
He additionally spent almost 30 years in Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team and has served for around 20 years in the Great North Air Ambulance as one of its regular Helicopter Emergency Medical Service doctors.
Dr Weston is also part of the North West Air Ambulance major incident response team and attended emergencies such as the Manchester bombing and Grayrigg train derailment. He was awarded an MBE in 2015 for services to emergency medical care.
So far in 2023 the BEEP Doctors (BASICS) Cumbria charity has attended 243 incidents and members have completed 822 volunteering hours.
You can find out more about the work of the BEEP Doctors and make a donation right here.