Touching Lives - March 2010
An appointment with Dr Dawn TV doctor, local GP and now dedicated Action cyclist
Best-known as one of the presenters of Channel 4’s no-holds-barred Embarrassing Bodies series, Dawn caught the cycling bug last year and, luckily for Action, shows no signs of recovery!
A new series of the hit show, in which Dawn and fellow Action cyclist Dr Pixie McKenna tackle those medical problems people usually prefer to keep under wraps, returns this spring, and she is still amazed when people recognise her. “I’m not that well made up in real life, but I do get asked some strange things in public places from time to time,” she laughs.
“The show might seem all lipstick and lights but in reality there is a lot of hanging around drinking tea. But it is lovely to see people after their treatments. The programme really does seem to make a difference for people and back in the real world I see lots of patients who have plucked up the courage to seek help after seeing it. Sadly, I think it has put my kids off medicine as a career!”
It’s her three children, and the fact that two were born prematurely, that made Dawn keen to support Action Medical Research. “I had worked in Special Care Baby Units before they were born so you would have thought I would be better prepared than most. I knew what all the machines were for and understood the terminology and numbers, but I still found the whole experience very daunting. As a new mum, all you want to do is to care for your baby but when your child is in special care almost all of the caring is done by professionals you don’t know. The doctors and nurses do an amazing job but it doesn’t stop you feeling impotent and frightened.”
The children are now healthy teenagers and, when she’s out of the spotlight, Dawn still works part-time as a Gloucestershire GP. Her other media work includes regular radio and TV slots, and writing for magazines like Sainsbury’s Fresh Ideas and Now. With such a busy schedule, how does she fit cycling in? “There’s nothing quite like having a challenge to prepare for to make you fit it all in and I’m lucky – I really enjoy all of it.”
An appointment with Dr Dawn TV doctor, local GP and now dedicated Action cyclist There’s certainly no shortage of training buddies for the ride, Dawn has recruited a 24-strong team that once again includes fellow media doctors Pixie, Rob Hicks and Rosemary Leonard, along with eight other GPs (including husband Graham) and a few more friends and family members.
“We’ll start by doing some weekend rides but as soon as the clocks change we’ll be out in the evenings too. It works really well training as a team because it makes you stick to the schedule. We followed it to the letter last year and were so well prepared it made the ride really enjoyable,” she says.