My Journey Through BOFAS

On this page various members of BOFAS Council and committees describe how they became involved with BOFAS. The aim of this is to inspire surgeons who wish to be involved with the society and demonstrate that all can contribute if they wish.


Rick Brown – President BOFAS 2023-2024


Driving along the M4 returning from BOFAS in 2011, I decided it was time to give back. I had been a Consultant for seven years and had established a new Foot & Ankle service in my area as well as starting a novel Foot & Ankle training course for the Registrars of the Severn Deanery. I felt I knew enough about what I was doing and had made sufficient mistakes on the way to start to teach. I also wanted to jump on the band wagon of the new concept of a standardised validated course teaching the principles of F&A surgery in all corners of the country.


My first election was the most intimidating, where I stood on a ticket of increasing the number of Foot & Ankle questions in the FRCS Orth. Having delivered this and a number of Fellowships the second election was easier.


The honour of Chairing EdComm soon became an immense responsibility, taking our education programme online during the pandemic. But great people pulled together. BOFAS is full of selfless great people generous with their time.


Then eleven years into the journey I was elected President. Once more I enjoy working on the vast range of projects with these great BOFAS people from across the country.


Anna Chapman – EDI Lead


I first went to BOFAS in 2009 as a Registrar and went on my own to that first Annual Conference, as I wanted to pursue a career in Foot and Ankle Surgery. I knew only one consultant at the meeting, who had been a trainee with me and had encouraged me to attend, I literally knew no one! It was a bit daunting for sure, but I had been reassured that the BOFAS was a friendly and welcoming place to be. This consultant took the time to introduce me to people he knew who kindly took an interest. I had also been introduced to another trainee who invited me to sit with her at dinner. It was there where I met her female Consultant who also made me feel welcome and included on that first evening. In hindsight, these early experiences are a true reflection of how important inclusivity and taking an interest in trainees are in influencing their career choices as I did indeed end up as a Foot and Ankle surgeon!


I continued to go back annually, meeting more people each year. I presented a free paper in my final year of training when I was looking for Fellowships. I found the Society to be welcoming as promised, which was invaluable to me as we had only a couple of foot and ankle surgeons in the region where I trained. Therefore, I was reliant on the Society for the foot and ankle connection. Attendance at the Conference led to me securing both of my UK Fellowships.


This connection became even more important in 2012 when I became a Consultant back in the region where I trained. I found BOFAS and the colleagues I had met an essential source of support and enthusiasm in those early years. 


As a keen educationalist, I wanted to give something back to the Society and contribute to the day-to-day workings. I put myself forward for the EdComm in 2014 and wasn’t successful. I was deflated, but on the way home, my BOFAS friend from training rang me and reassured me this was entirely normal as I was a new comer. He advised me to keep networking and to try again the following year.


I was then successful in 2015 and completed 2 terms on the EdComm, which were very enjoyable and rewarding. I enjoyed running sessions at the BOA, running the Advanced Foot and Ankle Forum, designing AHP and New Consultant courses and updating the Principles Course during the Pandemic.  A lot of time and work went to these events, sure, but every course had an element of CPD for me and I had the invaluable opportunity of working with members of the Society from all over the country.


In 2022, I was supported and co-opted by the EdComm as the EDI Lead for BOFAS and now lead the EDI Working Group. I look forward to the challenges this role will bring and further building on the footprint of inclusivity that has been an integral part of the Society.


Yaser Ghani – EDI Working Group / Developer ‘Lectures of Distinction’


I started attending the BOFAS Annual Conferences during my senior trainee registrar years, as I had developed an interest in foot and ankle surgery. I had heard great things about the BOFAS and its welcoming nature and wanted to network and meet potential future fellowship directors.


My ‘BOFAS Journey’ truly began when during the Pandemic as a final year trainee, when I quickly realised the detrimental effect of the Pandemic on foot and ankle training. I approached the BOFAS President Jim Davies and the Ed Comm Chair Rick Brown with the idea of webinars that would provide a source of online foot and ankle teaching. Not knowing anyone in the BOFAS committee, I wasn’t expecting a reply but was pleasantly surprised with a very receptive and supportive response. I found all the members from different BOFAS Committees to be extremely supportive and encouraging and this helped me develop the highly successful ‘Lectures of Distinction’ Webinar series. I became the first trainee to serve on the Education Committee and, along with Tim Williams, led the highly popular Lectures of Distinction Series of webinars, successfully bringing the Foot and Ankle Education to the Registrars.


This initial experience of dealing with the BOFAS committee and council members was extremely positive. I found all the members to be sincerely encouraging and supportive. I have always been a keen educationalist, and this was recognised by the committee members and with the support of the Society, it gave me opportunities to be involved in various other projects such as the BOFAS Principles course, the New Consultant course, and now the EDI working group. I have and will continue to encourage trainees and new consultants to become involved in BOFAS and I hope that my role in the EDI Working group will give me more opportunities to support my colleagues further.


Robert Clayton, BOFAS Media and Communications Director


As a newly appointed consultant in a Scottish DGH in 2010, I had never worked in England and knew nobody in the BOFAS world. Foot and Ankle surgery was (and still is) very much underprovided in Scotland compared with the rest of the UK so there were few of us around up here at the time, and this was long before the development of courses such as the fellows and new consultants forum allowed people coming through the system to get to know their peers. As well as an absence of contacts, geography was also an issue, with attending meetings in much of England potentially requiring a day’s travel.


I got to know people by going to all meetings I was invited to, putting in time and effort to deliver quality presentations and offering to go back to do so again. As a new consultant I stood up at the BOFAS AGM in 2010 and proposed creation of a new consultants’ group to help address issues new consultants face. This was a truly new idea at the time, and I was struck by the positive reaction I had from the senior members of the society, none of whom knew me. This was a great encouragement, and put me in regular contact with newer and more established consultants. 


From there, having been inspired by this to get involved with BOFAS, it was an obvious step to apply for election to the Scientific committee on which I served a three year term. In 2017 council created the then new post of “Media and Communications Director” which came with the challenge of creating a new website, as well as developing the IT side of the society which ultimately led to the creation of features such as webinars and the conference app. I was elected to this post and was re-elected in 2021 so have now served over six years on the BOFAS council.This role has involvement with all aspects of the society’s activities and I have enjoyed every minute of it. 


Kartik Hariharan – BOFAS Past President 2011-2012


“Sometimes it’s the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination”: Drake


Journeys are almost always punctuated with exhilarating moments and occasionally with tumultuous ones: luckily, the former has been the prevailing experience in my BOFAS journey! In a timespan of almost 27 years as a proud member of BOFAS, I can honestly say that it has been one of the high points in my professional and personal life, and I will always be indebted to BOFAS for it.


My BOFAS life began nearly 3 decades ago when I attended an Annual Congress in the late 1990s as a greenhorn consultant embarking on an exciting but somewhat apprehensive expedition in the world of foot and ankle. An amazing lecture by the inimitable Basil Helal on the glory of the sesamoids held me enthralled, and I knew straight away, that I was in the right place to start my career interests. It was a tiny group of about 80 or so likeminded individuals with the likes of Bernard Heggit, Ravi Kunzru, Eric Anderson, Paul Cook, Ian Winson, Magdi Greis, and Steve Parsons amongst many others, who stoked the passion for the subspecialty, that till today remains in me with the same intensity as it was all those many years ago. What was most rewarding, satisfying and comforting, was that there was a convivial and almost pastoral atmosphere amongst the doyens, with an eagerness to share their experiences and being most approachable, which remains the defining character of the BOFAS fraternity: one which has eclipsed the usual aggression, adversarial mode and brinkmanship seen in many a meeting that I have attended. It is wonderful to see that BOFAS continues to nurture and enthuse its young surgeons to the present day: long may that ethos continue.


The ability to effect change, policy and algorithms soon left me feeling that I wanted to do more than be a spectator, and therefore I stood for election to the Education committee, and was duly rewarded by the membership with a successful vote. Working with the likes of Dishan Singh, Fed Robinson Patrick Laing, and Nick Geary was enriching and filled me with enthusiasm, which 2 years later resulted in my appointment as the Chairman of the Education committee. It was a riot of activity with a bunch of members whose sole aim was to improve, innovate and impart fresh ideas and educational tools to dissipate knowledge to the membership. I truly enjoyed this period in BOFAS, as it helped cement a wonderful group of people to work together, and at the same time for endearing and lasting friendships, which I will always treasure. It saw the creation of the famed BOFAS Principles Course and the first course was in my hometown of Newport under the able leadership of Hiro Tanaka, just as I put my name in the hat to run for President. It was a treasured feather in the Education Committee collective cap.


My presidential year that followed was perhaps the most exciting, arduous and sometimes frightening part of my journey. I wasn’t fortunate enough to enjoy the wisdom and efficiency of the amazing Jo Millard our current Chief Operating Officer (she wasn’t appointed to BOFAS then!), and relied on past presidents, members of Council and Committees, other members, my hospital staff, company reps, and of course, my dear colleagues at the Aneurin Bevan University health Board, Hiro, Sujit and Yogesh. What resulted was a fabulous Annual meeting at the Celtic Manor resort in Newport, which many of the members still tell me was one of the best meetings they have attended both in academic and social terms!


The crowning glory of my journey was the creation of the Malawi fellowship exchange programme without a shadow of doubt! Inspired by a scintillating lecture by the ebullient John Cashman and a visit to Malawi (thanks to the enthusiasm of Ashley Wells and Mark Goddard of  WG Health Care) the Council was magnanimous in accepting Cure International as an official Charity of BOFAS and also funded the Fellowship programme. It is the proudest moment of my career, and I will always be grateful to BOFAS for that opportunity to leave my legacy for the society.


Thereafter having served as a Director and then as a Trustee of BOFAS, I retired from holding office on the Council, and realised with amazement and joy that there were so many members with splendid skills which is constantly expanding the remit and skill base for BOFAS. It is wonderful to see that the Society continues to climb dizzy heights in the pursuit of excellent programmes and noble intentions.


As for me, I continue to enjoy the membership, fraternity, and the sheer joy of being a member and look forward every year when I can meet up with dear old friends, make new ones, enjoy academic extravaganzas, whilst not forgetting the beer and the fun: a valuable lesson I learnt was that the best wisdom is almost always imbibed with a pint at the bar!

Thus my journey continues, and I would hope for a good while yet.

Wishing all the members a very long happy and momentous BOFAS journey!