Top award for doctor
2 June 2003 The Press

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The highest honour in Canterbury in the Queen's Birthday Honours List today has gone to Dr Herbert Bramwell Cook, a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Dr Cook retired last year as full-time consultant gastroenterologist to Christchurch Hospital, after a career entirely in the public health sector.

Dr Cook worked largely in the diagnosis and treatment of coeliac disease, a disorder in the small bowel caused by intolerance to wheat, rye, and barley.

Research in which Dr Cook collaborated found the disease was common in New Zealand, with 600 recognised cases in Christchurch. Effects of the disease vary greatly and studies estimated more than 2000 Christchurch cases went unrecognised.

Dr Cook, 67, spent his first 16 years in India, where his father was a Salvation Army missionary doctor. He completed his secondary schooling at Christchurch Boys' High, then studied medicine at Otago University.

Apart from five years in Britain and the United States during the 1960s, he has spent all his working life in Christchurch. This included teaching at the School of Medicine.

He said the award was made possible by his "group of excellent colleagues" in the health service.

Dr Cook has long been active in the Salvation Army and has done voluntary work for it since 1974. He said he always tried to practise compassion, instilled in him by his parents.