A DOCTOR from Whitby has had an appointment with a difference.
Dr Alistair Sutcliffe from Whitby Group Practice met the Queen and spoke with her for at least five minutes when he was invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace.
The adventurous doctor was selected to attend because of his mountaineering exploits which saw him become the first man to summit the highest mountain on each of the seven continents at the first attempt.
The reception was held at the palace on 9 December to recognise those with “exceptional achievement in exploration and adventure” – and also to mark the centenary of Captain Robert Scott’s final attempt to reach the South Pole.
When he finally received his invitation – it went to Whitby in Ellesmere Port by mistake – it came as a complete surprise to Dr Sutcliffe.
He said: “It was completely out of the blue, I didn’t even know the reception was taking place.
“I was really surprised and there has been a lot of excitement in the family as you can imagine.”
Sir Chris Bonington, who wrote the foreword for Dr Sutcliffe’s book, The Hardest Climb, was there as was David Attenborough, Ranulph Fiennes and Bear Grylls.
At the beginning of the evening Dr Sutcliffe was introduced to the Queen and shook her hand and thought it would be drinks and vol-au-vents after that.
He said: “I was chatting to a guy who holds the land speed record and the head of the household gathered us together and said would you mind if the Queen came and spoke with you.”
Her majesty asked him about his climbing, his book (a copy of which has been left with the head of the household) and what he was planning on doing next.
Dr Sutcliffe added: “I had on my name badge with Whitby group practice on it, spoke about where I was from and how getting away can be difficult in a practice but that my partners in Whitby have been very supportive.
“She was really lovely and it was a once in a lifetime event.”
Dr Sutcliffe was interviewed on Radio 4 in a piece which was broadcast on Wednesday morning.
If you missed it you can catch it on the BBC iplayer following this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b018cwgy/Midweek_21_12_2011/