DOCTOR Robert Smee will become the first person in Tamworth Regional Council history to bestowed the key to the city.
Dr Smee, a radiation oncologist based at the Prince of Wales Hospital at Randwick, has been travelling to Tamworth from his Sydney home for the past 27 years to offer care to the region’s cancer patients.
He will be presented the honour in recognition of his years of dedicated service to the citizens of the local community.
Dr Smee – who has particular expertise in paediatric, head, neck and brain cancers – is renowned in Australia and internationally.
Dr Smee said he was “chuffed” by the honour.
“It was totally unexpected and I was totally surprised; I’m chuffed,” he said.
“The reward for me is sitting down with patients face-to-face and helping them through their crisis.
“I get my rewards for helping people – but this is very humbling.”
Mayor Col Murray sought council’s view on bestowing the key to the city through a mayoral minute tabled at Tuesday night’s council meeting.
Dr Smee’s identity as the recipient of the key was not revealed until a media statement was released by the council yesterday morning.
He said Dr Smee clearly had a strong commitment to the region and was most deserving of recognition as the first recipient of the key to the city of Tamworth.
“Dr Smee has delivered expert skills to the Tamworth community without interruption for 27 years – often running clinics well into the night,” he said.
“His commitment, starting back some 27 years ago, showed great foresight and commitment to help reduce inequality for this community in the level of health care they can access in comparison to metropolitan cities.”
Cr Murray said the key to the city was an acknowledgement Dr Smee had “shown a deep caring and commitment for the Tamworth region and its surrounds”.
“He has fought at times to ensure he is able to continue to provide services for cancer patients closer to their home,” he said.
“The community’s appreciation and need for Dr Smee’s expertise has been highlighted several times at public community rallies to ensure he could continue to see patients locally, when it looked likely that Prince of Wales Hospital would stop allowing him to attend Tamworth.”
A date is yet to be set for the ceremony to hand the key to Dr Smee.