Campus doctor recognised with Honorary Degree



Dr Victor De Lima
Dr Victor De Lima

For more than 40 years he has been the go-to person for students seeking medical advice at Heriot-Watt’s Edinburgh campus.

Today (Wed June 21), Dr Victor De Lima was recognised with an Honorary Degree for his unwavering service to the University community. He was presented with the academic title of Doctor of the University by Professor Richard A. Williams, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University during a ceremony held at the Edinburgh campus as part of the summer graduation programme for 2023.

Dr De Lima was born in Kenya in 1951, the fourth of five siblings. After completing his schooling, he taught for a couple of years in Kisumu, western Kenya, to help fund his medical studies at the University of Edinburgh.

It has been a hugely rewarding privilege to have the opportunity of providing primary healthcare to thousands of students, occupational healthcare to staff and GP services to the local community, of which the University is an integral part.

Dr Victor De Lima

He graduated in 1975, and then undertook a series of medical jobs preparing for a vocation in General Practice. In 1979 he was offered a Partnership at the Currie Medical Practice. The Practice had been contracted since 1972 to provide GP services to Riccarton Campus.

In the years that followed, Dr De Lima increased GP consulting on Campus, established an Occupational Health Service, helped set up a dental service, and initiated the student counselling service, as well as sports physiotherapy provision. He was appointed Physician-in-Charge to the University in 1984.

It gradually became evident that the Campus merited an autonomous rather than a branch practice, and the Riccarton General Practice was established in 1994, enabling the extension of GP services to students living off-Campus within Edinburgh, and to the local community.

Commenting on his Honorary Degree, Dr De Lima said: “I’m very grateful to Heriot-Watt for awarding me the Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University. In accepting this honour, I acknowledge the greatly valued support of my family and of friends and colleagues, past and present, within the Medical Practice and across the University and beyond. It has been a hugely rewarding privilege to have the opportunity of providing primary healthcare to thousands of students, occupational healthcare to staff and GP services to the local community, of which the University is an integral part.”

The Riccarton General Practice is based in the purpose-built University Health Centre located on the Edinburgh campus, adjacent to the University’s main reception. It provides a caring service to improve the health and wellbeing of Heriot-Watt students in Edinburgh, and residents in the local community.

Dr De Lima could not have anticipated that working at Heriot-Watt University would pave the way for him to qualify in Diving Medicine, allowing him to assess fitness of individuals undertaking scientific diving.  Furthermore, this knowledge has positioned him as a vital asset within the Diving Safety Sub-Committee, providing invaluable guidance and advice to students and staff across Heriot-Watt’s campuses in Orkney, Edinburgh and Malaysia to this day.  He has also acted as joint medical adviser to the Royal Geographical societies “Shoals of Capricorn” marine research project.

Dr De Lima retired as Physician-in-Charge in September 2021, having served for 42 years in post. Despite this, his close association with Heriot-Watt continues as he currently holds the position of Consultant Occupational Health Physician to the University.

Professor Richard A. Williams, Principal and Vice-Chancellor at Heriot-Watt University presented Dr De Lima with his Honorary Degree. He said afterwards: “It is with great pleasure and admiration that we celebrate this well-deserved recognition of Dr De Lima’s outstanding contributions to our university community.

“Dr De Lima has been an invaluable asset to our institution, tirelessly serving the health needs of our campus population for more than four decades. Beyond his exceptional medical skills, Dr De Lima has also been actively involved in various health initiatives and was pivotal in the establishment of our on-campus dental service and counselling service.

“By conferring this honorary degree upon Dr De Lima, we acknowledge and appreciate his immense contributions to the betterment of our campus, and in maintaining the health and safety of our students and staff.”

In total, 14 graduation ceremonies will be held at the University’s Edinburgh campus between Friday June 16 and Friday June 23 as part of the Summer Graduation programme for 2023.

Graduation ceremonies are also planned for Heriot-Watt’s Dubai campus on July 4-5 and at its Malaysia campus on 9-10 July.


Craig McManamon

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