The consultation: how to tackle your dreams

by Keith Cooper

Rugby doctor Charlotte Fairweather achieved her childhood dream with absolute precision but it was a difficult journey. She talks to Keith Cooper.

Location: UK
Published: Tuesday 12 November 2019
Dr Fairweather's son leads the England rugby team captain Owen Farrell out to a game against Scotland

My waters broke when I was on call. I was moved quickly to the obstetric ward. I still had the bleep on me.

I felt panicked. I was only 22 weeks. They told me the baby wouldn’t survive or be severely disabled.

They tried everything. I was home in three days.

Samuel was born two weeks later. He made a little cry. I glimpsed his minute little body before he was taken away. He weighed 792 grams. On his third day he bled into his lungs and brain. The outcome looked bleak.

They asked if I wanted the chaplain, to take him outside. But after surgery he improved. Six months later we were home.

You might never work again as a doctor, they said. I’d walked through those hospital doors for three years as a doctor then every day for six months to see my poorly child. How was I going to manage? I’d wanted to be a doctor for the England rugby team, my grandma reminds me. Now my confidence was knocked.

Samuel defied all the odds. He met milestones, started to smile, mobilise, to bum-shuffle, then walk. He’s a stubborn child. I started working locum shifts. I hadn’t forgotten everything. I did an MSc in sports medicine, trained as a GP. I took leave to work for the Welsh Football Association, before taking a job as lead medic for the RFU (Rugby Football Union) Red Roses [the England women’s national rugby team].

I missed the first two games of the Six Nations. Samuel was very unwell. My boss in the RFU told me to go home and be mum. I returned to work for the rest. Samuel, dressed in full England kit, led the England men’s team out, three months after his emergency surgery. I still don’t know what he whispered to make Owen Farrell laugh. It has been a rocky old road but I’ve got to go somewhere where I want to be.

Charlotte Fairweather is a Marlow GP and lead medic for the RFU Red Roses