Presidents Pay Tribute to Yvonne Gilbert on Honorary Fellowship Award

By Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine UK, 20 Oct, 2020 | 4 min read

This year, we have chosen to award a single honorary fellowship to one exceptional candidate – Head of Faculty Yvonne Gilbert. Yvonne has been involved with sport and exercise medicine for more than 20 years, and has played a fundamental role in both the establishment of the Faculty and the development of the specialty as a whole.

Faculty Presidents past and present were united in paying tribute to Yvonne’s extraordinary contribution. Announcing the award of her honorary fellowship, current President Dr John Etherington said:

“Because of her sterling work, dedication and commitment to the Faculty and to the specialty, even before its inception, the council has unanimously agreed to award Honorary Fellowship to our Head of Faculty, Yvonne Gilbert. I am sure everyone involved with sport and exercise medicine will join me in congratulating Yvonne and be delighted by the fact that she will remain an integral part of the Faculty well into the future.”

Yvonne’s first involvement with SEM came in 1999, when she joined Faculty forerunner the Intercollegiate Academic Board for Sport and Exercise Medicine (IABSEM) as its only paid member of staff.

Professor Charles S B Galasko, who was chairman of IABSEM from 2002 and became the first President of the Faculty in 2006, described the extent of Yvonne’s contribution during these early years. He notes that Yvonne was involved in almost all aspects of Faculty business at that time – from setting up exams and designing diploma certificates, to coordinating the many tasks required to gain recognition for the specialty and establish the Faculty.

“I took over the chairmanship at the beginning of 2002. Yvonne was the only member of office staff, and she was part-time. Two of my aims were to get SEM recognised as a specialty in its own right, and to create a UK Faculty of SEM as the first stage of becoming a college. As you can imagine this required a tremendous amount of office support which Yvonne carried out valiantly, working overtime without payment and putting her heart into creating the specialty and the Faculty.”

Past Presidents Professor Mark Batt (2009-2012), Dr Roderick Jaques (2012-2015), and Dr Paul Jackson (2015-2018) all recall how they relied upon Yvonne’s dedication, professionalism and vast institutional knowledge during their times in office. Professor Batt said:

“Throughout my time as Vice-President and President of The Faculty, Yvonne was our point of reference and confidant. Her attention to detail, thoughtfulness, kindness and loyalty has no bounds. On her award of Honorary Fellowship I wish Yvonne and (her husband) Jim all the very best: truly wonderful people. Sport & Exercise medicine would not be where it is today without her.”

Dr Jaques described Yvonne as the calm and collected “rock” at the heart of the Faculty. He said:

“For a new President coming in, Yvonne would gently lead the new incumbent through the intricacies of Royal College politics and  Council workings. Her institutional knowledge is quite remarkable. Supported by her wonderful husband Jim, who on many occasions assisted behind the scenes of Faculty dinners and council meetings, Yvonne’s quiet manner would always give an air of tranquilly and confidence to proceedings. I am so delighted that she has been conferred an honorary fellow, after so many years of service above and beyond her role. I can now, selfishly, look forward to seeing her more often at Honorary Fellows meetings.”

Immediate Past President Dr Jackson underscored just how important Yvonne has been to the Faculty and its development. He said:

“Her detailed knowledge of the history of the Faculty, the background to past decisions, and her insight into the best way to manage those from outside the Faculty with whom we have a working relationship provided invaluable guidance to me as President. Whether it was a Royal visit from our patron, or a routine Council meeting I was always confident that her attention to detail would ensure that all would be well. When we were under pressure to hit a deadline her calm approach rubbed off on all around and the task was always completed on time, often after several gentle reminders to the President. I am delighted to see Yvonne receive an Honorary Fellowship and I congratulate her on her enormous contribution to the development of Sport & Exercise Medicine in the UK.”

The final word on Yvonne’s contribution to the specialty comes from Professor Donald MacLeod. Professor MacLeod was the first chairman of IABSEM, and worked closely with Yvonne at the very beginning of her career in SEM. He said:

“Yvonne’s contribution to Sport and Exercise Medicine is immense. She has been involved from the early days supporting the Edinburgh University Postgraduate Board for Medicine Sports Medicine courses and conferences. BASEM Scotland also benefited from her expertise. Her involvement in establishing IABSEM and the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine, plus helping to develop links with musculoskeletal and Moving Medicine is second to none.”

“Her commitment to the Chairmen and Council of IABSEM and subsequently the Faculty, overcoming all the challenges encountered, has been and remains exemplary. The award of Honorary Fellowship of the Faculty is entirely appropriate.”