Ex-military man Peter Byrne was treated to an elaborate “subterfuge” when he was tricked into attending a ceremony in Adelaide where he was awarded a high honour.
The Wirrabara identity was presented with an Outstanding Service to the Community Award by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.
Dr Byrne, 75, who served as a doctor in Vietnam and is the medico for his beloved Southern Flinders Football Club, accepted the award on Friday instead of attending the Crows-Sydney match at Adelaide Oval.
“It came as a total and utter surprise. I was lured to the college’s office on the pretext of attending an art exhibition. I preferred to be watching the Crows,” he said.
The adoring crowd at the ceremony included old army mates from Vietnam, his brother from Brisbane and sister from the United Kingdom..
“I was the centre of attention. It was incredibly generous of the college to give this award,” Dr Byrne said.
The award, recognising a long and distinguished career, was presented by Dr Phil Worley, vice-chairman of the college’s South Australian Regional Committee.
Dr Byrne has improved the lives of thousands of patients and he is highly regarded as having been a fine surgical teacher who guided many generations of young trainees.
His military career included serving as a major in Vietnam and as a United Nations military surgeon is East Timor.
He was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia Military Division and was honorary surgeon to the Governor-General.
Friend and colleague Trevor Pickering said Dr Byrne was involved in the Returned Services League and served as a board member of Exercise Trojan’s Trek which provides psychological rehabilitation for young Vietnam veterans.
“He has been involved in sports medicine, in particular as a medical officer for teams in the South Australian National Football League, for nearly 20 years. He was medical officer for the South Australian Cricket Association which involved care of the Australian cricket team,” he said.