A Northamptonshire fundraiser has been presented with an honorary fellowship by the county’s university.
Anita Smith, from Orlingbury, was handed the honour by the University of Northampton for more than two decades’ of charity work on behalf of a hospital in the Gambia.
In 1992, Anita visited the west African country for a family holiday – a trip which inspired her to devote her life to improving healthcare delivery in Bansang, deep in the African bush.
She founded the Bansang Hospital Appeal, receiving the backing of local people as well as the Northants Telegraph – and has worked tirelessly to reverse the hospital’s once terminal decline.
To date, more than 47 shipping containers of supplies have been donated from her charity work in the UK. Since she got involved a new 80-bed children’s unit has been built, operating theatres have been refurbished and a hospital-wide computer system has been installed.
The charity also arranges for international volunteers to work in the hospital allowing them to gain skills and improve practice. Anita’s intervention at Bansang has meant that communities across the region have been saved from losing loved ones to preventable causes.
In 2008 Anita received an MBE from the Queen for services to healthcare.
On her university recognition, Anita said: “When I first opened the letter saying that I had been awarded an Honorary Fellowship, I couldn’t believe it.
“I just have to say that it is a huge privilege, a great honour and my family are all very proud. The graduates today have a huge advantage over me; you have the medical background, you have this wonderful university where you have been studying and you can go that step further than me.
“The world is so much smaller now and there are no boundaries for where your career is now going to take you.”
At the graduation ceremony this week, Professor Nick Petford, vice chancellor of the University of Northampton, added: “In addition to celebrating the outstanding achievements of the graduating class of summer 2014, we are also recognising high profile individuals who have collectively impacted, directly or indirectly, many millions of people worldwide through their acting, music, charitable activities or the social enterprises they run.
“These recipients of honorary awards will, no doubt, motivate our graduates as they go out into the world and transform lives and inspire change amongst all those who come into contact with them.”