Professor Bill Heald was bestowed the honour of ‘Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Star’ from HM King Carl XVI. The Order of the Polar Star was established in 1748 by King Frederik I of Sweden, and has been bestowed on foreign nationals since 1975. The award recognises Bill’s meritorious and pioneering surgical work and devotion to duty.
Professor Heald received the award from the Swedish Ambassador to the UK, Mikaela Kumlin Granit, at the Swedish Embassy on 29 April 2022. The Ambassador referred to Professor Heald’s tireless work with the Swedish medical community which led to improvements in the treatment of cancer, improved patient care and improved survival rates, not only in Sweden but across the world. She summarised his remarkable career, including having been a vice-President of the Royal College of Surgeons in England, as well as his development of the pioneering surgical technique, total mesorectal excision (TME), which has become the gold standard for lower rectal cancer removal. The Ambassador praised Professor Heald for promoting cooperation between Sweden and the UK with the noble aim of alleviating human suffering.