Tributes to top Kettering doctor who took town and its people to his heart
Dr Ahmed Mukhtar moved to Kettering to work as a consultant paediatrician
Tributes have been paid to a much-loved and well-respected Kettering doctor and community leader by friends and colleagues from across Northamptonshire after his death at the age of 75 after a short illness.
Born in Sudan, Dr Ahmed Ibrahim Mukhtar was educated at the Medical School of the University of Khartoum, before taking up a Scholarship to study Physiology at Edinburgh University.
From there he went to Musgrave Park Hospital in Taunton where he met his wife, and fellow doctor, Deirdre.
Dr Mukhtar’s career took him to medical roles in London and Belfast before arriving at Kettering. In 1982, he took up an appointment as Consultant Paediatrician at Kettering General Hospital and served for 23 years, later taking on the key role of medical director of the hospital trust for six years, retiring in July 2004.
Among his other positions he served as High Sheriff, a deputy Lord Lieutentant, Governor of the University of Northampton, President of the Northamptonshire branch of St John Ambulance, Associate Examiner of the General Medical Council and as a member of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal.
Fellow consultant paediatrician, Dr Patti Rao, who knew Dr Mukhtar for 25 years, said: “Dr Mukhtar was a very well-known and well-loved consultant paediatrician who supported literally hundreds of local families whose children needed hospital care.
“He was always friendly, kind, professional and respected by all who knew him – including his very many friends and colleagues at Kettering General Hospital.
"He made an immense contribution to paediatric care and also played an important role as medical director supporting the hospital’s medical teams.
"He was one of the most clinically sound and experienced consultant paediatricians of his time and one of the founding fathers of the neonatal service at Kettering.
“He was a great role model for everyone, but particularly for young doctors from ethnic minority backgrounds.
"He was a true professional, statesman-like, but always kind and approachable to patients, parents, and colleagues of all grades.”
Recently retired consultant anaesthetist/intensivist, Dr Linda Twohey, said: “My clinical work as an intensive care consultant overlapped with Dr Mukhtar's when we were dealing with the sickest children.
“He was calm, wise, knowledgeable and skilled in the most challenging situations.
"I particularly remember the case of a child who nearly drowned, whose eventual complete recovery was undoubtedly due to his novel treatment approach.
"In his role as medical director, he gave sure and steady support to the consultant body and encouraged more junior colleagues to take on management roles to benefit patients and the wider hospital.”
Consultant physician Andrew Steel had known Ahmed since 1982 when they first worked together at the trust.
He said: “Ahmed was a respected man with a great sense of humour and who enjoyed his social life.
“When I first arrived in Kettering, he invited my wife and I round for supper, along with another new consultant and some of Ahmed’s non-medical friends.
"This simple act enabled me to meet a colleague whose path I may not have crossed professionally and also gave us some insight into the locality.
“When our baby son was acutely ill, he examined him and reassured us that he was okay and advised what action to take.
"He was both professional and compassionate but also gave us, as relatively new parents, the confidence to carry on.
"He also gave me professional advice.
"He suggested to me that I should apply for the vacant post of post-graduate tutor. I was successful at interview and held the post for some years.”
KGH's current medical director, Prof Andrew Chilton, said: “We all have fond memories of Ahmed.
"I will always remember his smile at the happy occasion at his installation as High Sheriff at Boughton House on that balmy summer’s evening where he individually greeted all his guests.
"His preferred method of addressing a crisis was calm with the offer of a Garibaldi biscuit.
"Many of you will share these memories. Our thoughts and sympathies are with his family at this difficult time.”
In 2008 Dr Mukhtar was appointed by the Crown as a Deputy Lieutenant for Northamptonshire.
Lord-Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, James Saunders Watson said: "I am so sorry to hear of the death of Dr Ahmed Mukhtar. I first met Ahmed when I became High Sheriff in 2018, an office he had held a couple of years before.
"He was a great enthusiast, with a wonderful smile, who was so willing to offer sound guidance.
"He was a great supporter of many organisations across the county, including the university and St John’s Ambulance and he will sadly missed.
"His kind and wise counsel touched so many of us. My thoughts are with his wife Deirdre and their sons.”
Rev Dr John Smith, a fellow consultant at KGH, said: "He was a well-respected colleague who worked closely with other doctors and worked hard for his patients. He was an extremely bright man."
A strong supporter of the growth and development of higher education in Northamptonshire he served with distinction on the Governing Council first of University College Northampton and then of the University of Northampton.
Professor Nick Petford, Vice Chancellor of the University of Northampton said: "We were greatly saddened to hear of the death of Dr Ahmed Mukhtar.
"Dr Mukhtar was a governor of the university from 2003 to 2012 and following his retirement from the board was an active and engaged member of the University Court.
"Colleagues remember Dr Mukhtar for the calm and collected manner in which he conducted himself using his extensive experience as a physician in the deliberations and discussion in which he took part.
"More recently, the university played host to the official lectures he arranged during his period of office as High Sheriff of Northamptonshire.
"For his contribution to the university and as High Sheriff, Dr Mukhtar was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the University in 2018.
" He will be sorely missed by the university and we offer our condolences to his widow, Deirdre, and their family."
Reverend Richard Coles, The University of Northampton's Chancellor, said: "We bumped into each other on many occasions and events.
"He was always very amiable and a smiling face you were always glad to see.
"He always brought the best out in people. He wasn't a show pony.
"He was genuinely committed in doing the best for people.
"Many people took him to their hearts because he saved their kids' lives when he worked at the hospital.
"He took Kettering to his heart and stuck with them and the people gave him loyalty in return."
In 2015-16 Dr Mukhtar became High Sheriff of the county, only the third black holder of this role anywhere in the country.
He promised to use his year in office 'to work in support of, and celebrate, the efforts of those people who help young people and children in the county'.
Dr Mukhtar was at the time only the third black recipient of the title of high sherif in the country since 1818. He was also the first high sheriff to feature a camel on his coat of arms, which he said was a tribute to his grandfather, who kept a herd of camels.
Current High Sheriff Paul Parsons said: "As well as serving as High Sheriff, Ahmed was commissioned as Deputy Lieutenant of Northamptonshire in 2008. He loved his adopted county and country which he served with distinction whilst always remaining in touch with his roots in Sudan.
"During his 25 years at Kettering General, he spent six years as the medical director of the Foundation Trust when his common sense and sense of humour stood him in good stead. His kindness and great warmth will be remembered by his many friends and associates."
A keen sports fan, Dr Mukhtar was a member of Geddington and Newton Bowling Club and actively supported Kettering Rugby Football Club, serving as one their senior vice presidents.
Peter May from Kettering Rugby Football Club said: "He was a long-time friend and supporter of KRFC and a true gentleman.
"Although he had lost a lot of his close friends at the club like Dick Reed and Les Berridge, he still made the effort to attend our vice president and old players lunches where he was made very welcome and had lots of friends.
"When he was High Sherriff of Northants he held a fantastic lunch at the club to honour its support in the community and it was an occasion where we were able to meet his wife and sons.
"He was a very popular visitor at Kettering Rugby Club and I and many others will miss his wise words and the support he gave to the club. He will be greatly missed."
He was a driving force behind the establishment of the special care baby unit, and a lifelong supporter, running appeals which raised many thousands of pounds for new equipment.
Predeceased by a son, Moktar (Mark), he is survived by his wife Deirdre and their three sons Ebrahim, Bashir, and Sami.