Posted by Megan Kraa, 17 February, 2018

A wealth of knowledge, level headed, doer and a compassionate man is only a few words to describe Russell Lee.

He was one of the first instigators to start Open Heart International (OHI) and to get it where it is today. OHI will be forever grateful for the original visit to Tonga back in the 80’s that sparked his initial passion and drive.

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This will be Russell’s last trip as a project coordinator for OHI and a fitting project to finish on since PNG is so dear to him, as it was where he grew up. After many years of leading trips on the ground Russell has said it is time to move over for the next generation. However, we are glad to say it doesn’t end here for Russell, it only looks a little different. Russell will still be involved with OHI, just in a different capacity (and to what that will look like we will have to wait and see!).

On Thursday night we were privileged enough to present him with a plaque, a small token of our gratitude, which read:

“Presented to Russell Lee, In recognition of your leadership and unwavering commitment to Open Heart International, and it’s positive impact on the many patients treated, clinicians trained and volunteers inspired since 1986.”

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It is hard to write 30 years in just over 30 words on a plaque about an inspiring man, but Dr Matthew Crawford shared a number of stories during his speech which just highlighted those words and the impact Russell has had on so many people’s lives across the world. I am sure these stories are just a glimpse into the work Russell has completed over the years. As Russell spoke he said in his own words that he likes a challenge and when someone says it can’t be done, it can be.

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There has been a number of jokes floating around this week about Russell doing a Johnny Farnham, and maybe he will but it a different capacity. But for now, we thank him for his dedication and passion over the past 30 years, they will certainly be massive shoes to fill.

Yesterday was also Russell’s Birthday so has been a number evenings filled of celebrations with the team. Russell, we look forward to seeing what the future holds but for now, let’s celebrate!

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