Yorkshire lad and now a “fixture” of Heart of Australia and its specialist medicine delivery to the Queensland bush, 36-year-old Dr Roly Hilling-Smith reckons he’s living the dream.
In fact, in conversation he says earnestly that it would be his dream to be always on the road, using his skills in cardiology in the bush where, he says, he’s “constantly touched” by the gratitude of Bush people for the work of Heart of Australia.
But the dream might be a way off yet for the youthful father of three boys – aged five, four and one – whose “day job” with the Brisbane-based Queensland Cardiology Group keeps him busy with City and Redlands district public and private hospital patients between time each month on the Heart of Australia truck.
Roly says he was not a “medical family” – his father (now retired) and mother (involved in disability learning) and his younger brother – chose careers in teaching. “For me, the sciences, leading me into medicine, seemed my only choice,” Roly says.
After five years of medical school and two years of doctor internship in Edinburgh, Roly says he followed friends to Western Australia where he met his wife, Alison, from Newcastle in NSW, who was in emergency nursing in the same Perth hospital.
After four years in Perth, Roly spent three years in cardiology in Melbourne before relocating to Brisbane.
He heard about Heart of Australia Founder, Dr Rolf Gomes and his groundbreaking specialist medicine travelling road clinics – “and it all sounded very good”.
Of working with Dr Gomes, Roly says: “I love it. It’s not the kind of thing someone from Yorkshire would usually experience.”
“It might sound strange, but you can actually help more people in a place like Dalby than you can in city clinics. And … it’s amazing how friendly and how grateful the people are.”
And the Hockey? He found that through English friends and the WA-based Australian Institute of Hockey during his time in Perth and he’s a regular player for Carina-based Easts club in Brisbane.