For­mer Toko­roa GP hon­oured


When Barry Knight ar­rived to Toko­roa to start a new job in medicine, he never ex­pected to leave half a cen­tury later with a Queen’s Ser­vice Medal.

The for­mer Toko­roa GP re­tired late last year, af­ter work­ing for 50 years in var­i­ous parts of the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion.

And this year his ef­forts were recog­nised at one of the high­est lev­els.

‘‘I had ab­so­lutely no idea. I am shocked, deeply moved, but de­lighted to re­ceive this recog­ni­tion at the end of my ca­reer.’’

His send off into re­tire­ment from Toko­roa to Whanga­mata was met with ‘‘gen­er­ous trib­utes’’ from mayor Neil Sin­clair, Taupo MP Louise Upston, col­leagues, and pa­tients.

The gath­er­ing of sorts was ‘‘in­for­mal’’ and ‘‘full of fun and fri­vol­ity’’, not know­ing what would come a few months later, he said.

‘‘Had I known at the time that I was soon to re­ceive a royal hon­our, I may have con­ducted my­self with a lit­tle more deco­rum at the staff func­tion.’’

Knight ar­rived to Toko­roa in 1965 as a gen­eral prac­ti­tioner and anaes­thetist at the hos­pi­tal.

The in­ten­tion was only ever to save money be­fore mov­ing to Bri­tain.

Yet the small town charm grabbed hold of him and never let go. ‘‘ We en­joyed it so much and made so many friends we stayed 50 years.’’

In that time he’s been on the emer­gency med­i­cal ros­ter for af­ter-hours ser­vice and put him­self at the fore­front with road ac­ci­dent call outs.

Not only that, Knight as­sisted with more than 2000 child births – yet that wouldn’t have been an unattain­able num­ber as he ar­rived to a flour­ish­ing town.

‘‘Toko­roa was a boom­ing South Waikato tim­ber town with a young pop­u­la­tion of 19,000 and a high birth rate.’’

His ca­reer was ‘‘chal­leng­ing’’, to say the least, but luck­ily he had his peers and com­mu­nity right be­side him.

‘‘I have had a long and event­ful med­i­cal jour­ney in Toko­roa with some quite ex­cep­tional col­leagues. . .It was a jour­ney I could not have made with­out the sup­port of my lov­ing wife Ju­dith.’’

‘‘This medal will al­ways re­mind me of Toko­roa, a town and com­mu­nity we loved in the 60s, al­ways have and still do.’’

For­mer Toko­roa doc­tor Barry Knight is stunned about his Queen’s

Ser­vice Medal.

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