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Professor named a local hero


Professor Sir John Burn has been named as among Newcastle and Gateshead’s most notable and inspiring people.

The twenty have been chosen by the public to have their names cast in bronze for a Hollywood-style ‘walk of fame’ along the Quaysides.

His plaque will be placed alongside those for Sir Bobby Robson, Sting, Ant and Dec, Kathryn Tickell, Brendan Foster, Stephen Miller, Alan Shearer, Dame Margaret Barbour and Professor Peter Higgs, to name a few.

NewcastleGateshead Local Heroes will take the form of a series of bronze plaques placed around the Newcastle and Gateshead Quaysides. It will honour current and past individuals, either from or with strong links to the area, who have made a significant contribution to NewcastleGateshead or the wider world over the last 60 years.

Educated at Teesdale School and later at Newcastle University Medical School, Professor Burn has been a consultant clinical geneticist for 30 years and is currently Professor of Clinical Genetics at Newcastle University.

On being told of the award, he said: "It's a real honour to be recognised by the people I work and live alongside. I'm on this list  as a representative of the talented people around me at Newcastle University, Newcastle Hospitals and the Centre for Life."

Professor Burn is genetics lead for the UK National Institute of Health Research and until April this year was the lead clinician for the UK National Health Service (North East). He was previously a director of the Institute of Genetic Medicine at Newcastle University (2005-2010), and president of the European Society of Human Genetics (2007).

He led the study that demonstrated the use of aspirin in reducing the risk of colorectal and other cancers in persons with Lynch syndrome, and leads an international consortium investigating chemoprevention in persons with hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer.

He also conceived and helped bring about the Centre for Life in Newcastle, which was opened by the Queen in 2000. In addition to housing the region’s Fertility and Genetics services, the Centre attracts a quarter of a million paying visitors to its science centre and provides practical science education to 40,000 school children per annum.

Professor Burn received a knighthood for services to medicine and healthcare in 2010.

Talented individuals recognised 

Plaques will be laid in the New Year along the stretch of pavement from the Newcastle end of the Millennium Bridge to the Swing Bridge. Across the river, they will continue along the Quayside to the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.

Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “I’m delighted with the names put forward by the public. Newcastle and Gateshead have nurtured many hundreds of talented, inspiring and notable individuals over the years, from scientists to sports personalities. This is a wonderful way to  permanently celebrate their achievements and I’d like to thank the people who took part in the nominations to make sure their hero has a place on one of our most popular visitor locations.”

Gateshead Council Cabinet Member for Culture, Cllr Linda Green, said: “I am thrilled by the range and calibre of the people who have been nominated to be honoured on our first 20 plaques. Local Heroes focuses on these brilliant people who have made a difference to the life and reputation of our region. Having the names of these inspiring people cast into the landscape of our Quayside will show our visitors and local people that we do have a lot to be proud of – I can’t wait to see them in place.”

NewcastleGateshead Local Heroes project forms part of the already vibrant offer for leisure and business tourists to the destination. The public were encouraged to nominate individuals that made them feel genuinely inspired and proud to call the place home.

2013 is the first year for Local Heroes. Nominations were sought from August to October and there will be an annual call for further suggestions, when more Local Heroes’ plaques will be added.

Full list of Local Heroes

Sir Bobby Robson, Sting, Ant and Dec, Kathryn Tickell, Brendan Foster , Stephen Miller , Alan Shearer, Dame Margaret Barbour, Professor John Burn, Professor Peter Higgs, David Almond, Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, Sirkka-Lisa Kontinnen, Lindisfarne, Robson Green, Julia Darling, Sister Winifred Laver, Cardinal Basil Hume, Alderman Edward Cowen JP (Ned) and Doreen Jarding.

Further information about the nominated Local Heroes, including the contribution they have made to the place.

published on: 18 December 2013