The son of a north-east oil tycoon has committed the next two decades of his life to saving and improving the lives of children around the world after selling off his Scottish bar and restaurant empire.
Garreth Wood, the son of businessman and philanthropist Sir Ian Wood, co-founded the charity Kids Operating Room (KidsOR) alongside his wife Nicola in January this year after deciding to fully dedicate his time to helping others.
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Working in partnership with David Cunningham, the former chief executive of the Scottish children’s hospital charity The Archie Foundation, Mr Wood’s organisation has now assisted in 5,000 successful children’s surgeries in the developing world through the creation of modern, safe operating theatres.
KidsOR has already built four fully operational paediatric surgeries in Malawi, Rwanda and Tanzania, but today Mr Wood has revealed plans to develop 15 more by the end of next year, in locations including Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Central America.
And Mr Wood, who recently turned 40-years-old, said he is now fully invested in helping the charity to make the maximum amount of difference where it is needed the most.
Mr Wood, who is due to travel to Malawi this Saturday to help with the construction of another surgery facility, said: “We have approved new operating rooms in South America and South East Asia already, so we’ve got a very good 2019 ahead of us, and we’re building a really fantastic group of staff to help us do that – and we’re looking to expand that over the next 12 months.
“I’m going to be doing this for the next 20 years.
“This is my life’s ambition now – to highlight the global plight of children who don’t get equal access to safe surgery, and to continue to support paediatric surgeons in lower to middle income countries, and really transform what they can do with the operating rooms we can supply them.”
Mr Wood said he and Mr Cunningham initially partnered up to create KidsOR after being “blown away” by the impact they had on what was to be a one-off project at a Ugandan hospital.
In January, he sold his business, Speratus Group, to focus on philanthropic pursuits.
Mr Wood added: “We spoke about what we wanted to do in the long-term, and I made this commitment to sell my business and move away from a traditional entrepreneurial role in bars and restaurants, and give 100% of my time to KidsOR.
“These operating rooms are the effective solution to saving lives. I just can’t see what I could do better with the next 20 years of my life.”