Friends of David Nott Foundation Conference: Gathering Future Humanitarian Leaders

This month, we held our third Friends of David Nott Foundation (FDNF) conference, hosted this year by our FDNF at the University of Cambridge in the Clinical School of Medicine. This event brought together 45 dedicated FDNF members from universities across the UK, including Dundee, Leicester, Nottingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Cork, Bristol, and Cardiff, alongside international attendees from the Czech Republic. 

Our Friends of David Nott Foundation societies are made up of medical students who wish to embark on a humanitarian career. By bringing them together for teaching and connection with our trainers, our goal is to nourish the next generation of humanitarian surgeons.  

The conference featured four specialised workshops led by our faculty members, focusing on vascular surgery, orthopaedics, paediatrics, and general trauma. These sessions provided students with hands-on surgical experience and insights into the challenging yet rewarding field of humanitarian medicine.  


Faculty trainer Dr Mahmoud Hariri, a surgeon who met our Co-Founder David Nott in underground hospitals in Syria, led our final lecture. He shared his experiences from Syria and the difficulties of being a surgeon under unimaginable pressure 

“One of the hospitals I worked in was in a cave in a mountain. There are many hospitals like this in Syria. Some are underground or in a gym. Most of our lives at that time (during the siege), were underground. 

Being a war surgeon is not a funny thing, it is difficult. I have experienced soldiers placing bets on what they could hit each day.” – Dr Mahmoud Hariri, faculty trainer 



Our Co-Founder Elly Nott opened the event with an inspiring address, expressing her excitement for this annual gathering and highlighting the critical role it plays in fostering the next generation of humanitarian healthcare professionals.  

“FDNF conference is a highlight of my year. It’s a joy to meet the next generation of humanitarians and see how enthusiastic they are to use their skills to make the world a better place.” Elly Nott, Co-Founder 

Through our FDNFs, students contribute significantly to our work by raising awareness, fundraising for missions, and volunteering on our Hostile Environment Surgical Training (HEST) courses offered in the UK.  


They are the future of this world, and now more than ever, we need people who want to help and make a difference.  

This conference not only reinforced the commitment of current FDNFs but also inspired new additions to engage deeply our mission in helping to ensure safe surgical skills are available to all.  

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