Tripoli’s Scots angel picks up Robert Burns Humanitarian Award 2012

Robert Burns Humanitarian Award

A Scots nurse who risked her life to treat patients from both sides of the Libyan civil war has been named recipient of the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award 2012 at the ceremony on Saturday, 28th January.

Karen Graham – originally from Clydebank and now matron/nursing services manager at the Oil Clinic in Tripoli – was presented with the prestigious award in recognition of her humanitarian efforts to care for patients, with little regard for her own personal safety, while gunfire and shells rained down on Tripoli.

The Robert Burns Humanitarian Award – launched in 2002 and supported by South Ayrshire Council, EventScotland and VisitScotland – recognises a group or individual who has saved, improved or enriched the lives of others or society as a whole, through personal self-sacrifice, selfless service or 'hands on' charitable work.

Receiving the award, Karen said: “I was completely overwhelmed just to be nominated for the award so to win it is beyond my wildest expectations, particularly when you consider the other nominees on the shortlist.

“I’m just a nurse doing a job that I love and that doesn’t change when you suddenly have to deal with civil war and heavy fighting in the vicinity of the hospital which resulted in us caring for the casualties of the conflict rather than the oil workers we were used to looking after.”

Karen’s fellow shortlisted finalists for the 2012 award were the Deaf History Review Editorial team – a group who have worked to transform the lives of deaf people across the world; and Sam Jennings (née Perkins) – a British midwife who saved the lives of thousands of babies and their mothers in the Congo.

As the latest recipient of the award, Karen received the equivalent of 1759 guineas – a sum which signifies the year of the Bard's birth and the coinage then in circulation – as well as a specially commissioned award handcrafted in Scotland.

The Robert Burns Humanitarian Awards is part of Scotland's Winter Festivals. Further information can be found at

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