The Cambridge Orthopaedic Writing Prize Judging Panel

The Cambridge Orthopaedic Writing Prize has assembled an eclectic mix of prestigious individuals to read and assess your entries. Comprising practising and trainee orthopaedic surgeons, a chief executive of a leading UK healthcare corporation and an established literary critic and organiser of literary fesitvals. Will your submission be understandable and easy to read or will it be indigestible, ill-considered and badly presented? Only they can decide!

The judges for 2014 are: Chairman Richard Villar, Ali Bajwa, Rob Roger, Joanna Burch, Jeya Palan, David Juster, Tessa Clarke and Payam Tarassoli.

Scroll down the page to read their biographies.


Richard Villar

Richard Villar qualified in medicine at St. Thomas’s Hospital in London (UK) before joining the military as the Regimental Medical Officer to the SAS. After leaving the Army he completed his surgical studies in Southampton and Cambridge, joining the consultant staff of Addenbrooke’s Hospital (Cambridge) in 1988. It was there that he developed his interest in conservative hip surgery and now has one of the largest experiences of hip arthroscopic (keyhole) procedures in the world.

Now in independent practice, Richard is a Founding Member, and first President, of the International Society for Hip Arthroscopy. He has served as a member of Council of the British Orthopaedic Association, is an assessor for the General Medical Council, and is a member of the United Kingdom’s Disaster Emergency Response Team.

In this latter capacity he was operational in the aftermaths of the Kashmir, Java and Haiti earthquakes. Richard regards orthopaedic surgery as both his profession and hobby.


Ali Bajwa

Ali Bajwa, a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon with special interest in sports injuries trained in the UK and Australia. He was awarded the prestigious McLeod Medal in sports medicine and currently works at The Villar-Bajwa Practice in Cambridge and London. His research interests include materials, novel devices and orthobiologics. He lectures and writes extensively and pioneered Cambfix Ltd while studying at Darwin College, University of Cambridge.

Ali describes himself a passionate sportsman who spends his life in pursuit of challenges ranging from athletics and climbing through to expeditions. As an athlete he earned the Cambridge Blue for discus throwing and competed at both national and international levels. He remains a keen thrower and mountaineer, his strong sense of adventure recently led him to the magnetic North Pole.


Rob Roger

Rob Roger is the Chief Executive Officer of Spire Healthcare and has been a key part of the management team that has driven a successful period of growth, including a programme of continued investment and the acquisition of eleven hospitals, establishing Spire as the second largest private hospital provider in the UK.

Prior to joining Spire in 1998, Rob was CFO at The Tussauds Group Ltd., where he ran the MBO. He then led a number of mergers and acquisitions, including the sale of the Tussauds Group to Dubai International Capital, the merger of the company with Merlin Entertainment in 2007 and the acquisitions of Thorpe Park and British Airways London Eye. Rob previously held a number of Finance Director positions with companies such as PepsiCo Inc. and First Choice Plc.


Joanna Burch

Joanna graduated from Cambridge University with a PhD in English and a rowing Blue. She subsequently qualified as a solicitor and worked in Cambridge for ten years before taking a break to have children.

During that break she launched the Words in Walden Literature Festival which she now stages each Spring and Autumn in Saffron Walden, inviting some of the country's most interesting speakers to educate and entertain the audiences.

In addition to directing the Festivals, she is Vice Chair of the Stephen Perse Foundation Board in Cambridge, writes regular book reviews for local publications, and has recently returned to the river.


Jeya Palan

Jeya received a 1st Class intercalated BSc honours degree from University College London in Immunology and Cell Pathology in 1999 and won the Prankerd-Jones Prize for Immunology that year. He subsequently received a MBBS from the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, University of London in 2000.

After completing training at the Royal Free Hospital London and the Lister Hospital in Stevenage, he spent a year in Queensland, Australia before returning to start basic surgical rotation in Oxford and Swindon. Jeya taught anatomy as a Demonstrator at the University of Oxford and also worked at the Radcliffe Infirmary Oxford, in Neurosurgery. His first orthopaedic registrar's post was in Frenchay Hospital, Bristol followed by a year as a Stryker Research Fellow at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford working primarily on the Exeter Primary Outcomes Study (EPOS) multicentre trial.

Currently a 4th year Specialty Registrar in the East Midlands (Leicester) Deanery, Jeya is undertaking a PhD at the University of Leicester with a clinical study, designed to predict poor outcomes in patients following primary hip and knee arthroplasty. He was appointed Associate Editor for the Bone and Joint Journal in 2012 and is currently the National Joint Registry Fellow (in conjunction with the Royal College of Surgeons of England). Alongside this Jeya is the President of the British Orthopaedic Trainees Association (BOTA) and as such is actively involved in promoting standards of training and represents the interests of orthopaedic trainees at the BOA Council, Royal College of Surgeons Council and other national forums and meetings.


David Juster

David Juster was born sufficiently long ago to own a Senior Railcard.  His first successful literary subversion was the fraudulent acquisition of two extra sets of library tickets which enabled him to fuel his obsession with military history.  Having decided to become a soldier aged about three, he became better informed by about six and decided that the SAS offered the best possibilities for forging the greatest friendships of one's life, plenty of aggressive camping and unlimited access to alcohol and agreeable companions with which to consume it.  He joined the Army to join the SAS and it was in this Regiment that he fell into the persuasive paws of a fellow panelist - you know who you are.  With him and others, David has enjoyed crossing deserts, climbing mountains and generally being a nuisance. Militarily, David seduced Richard to participate in a number of campaigns in the assigned role of Medic/Bulletcatcher - though the latter was inadequately explained to him.  Their relationship has been symbiotic;  one of them, probably the most brilliant medic of his generation, and the other his very good Orthopaedic surgeon friend Richard.  David left the Army after the Falklands (to which he had also summoned his supplicant surgeon) but largely before the Army gave him a serious job.
He bluffed his way into London Business School and wrestled with commercial and strategic concepts which remain alien to him.  In 1983, at the height of the consumer software boom, he and two enthusiasts from LBS set up a software company called Triptych which produced programmes which would now be called Apps.  Brilliant and far-sighted though these were in conception and realisation, the 'buying public' failed in one of its descriptors and actually bought very few.  So, lurching from one financial crisis to another, they changed the orientation of the business to serving book retailers (and, inter alia, as an OEM to Sinclair Research in Cambridge).  This led to the development of an internet book business (getting the picture now?).  Summoning his impressive business acumen and intuition,  David realised the prospects for this concept were only modest and left to join a US strategy consultancy.  This little business became His two former colleagues haven’t worked since;  He has.
For the latter part of the eighties he was in a senior functional role with Booz Allen Europe from which position he was headhunted to his current role as a Partner with Spencer Stuart - a global executive search firm.  For the past quarter of a century he has been Co-Head of the European Insurance Practice focusing on the recruitment of top executives for major insurance groups.  He has also brought his anarchic wisdom to the boards of a number of schools and charities.

On the inside, his pastimes are trying to carry off impossible culinary feats - and reading.  His library is virtually entirely non fiction with a strong focus on travel, climbing, history, photography, cookery history and anything else which feeds a restless curiosity.  He is forever running out of bookshelves.  Favourite books include: Seven Pillars of Wisdom, The Road to Oxiana, The Complete Illustrated Guide to Tantric Sex, any Metaphysical poetry, A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush and Sexually I’m More of a Switzerland.  On the outside he is a keen climber and walker.  This year he completed the Monte Rosa route with three former Airborne colleagues (combined age 258) a shy 250km and 50,000ft plus of ascent (almost two Everests).  This venture precipitated overdue orthopaedic intervention by one of his fellow panellists - you know who you are.  This, plus a brush with a titanium scaffold as a spinal fusion, have given him his sole insight into the world of Orthopaedics.  He is also a keen motorcyclist having been seduced aged 12.  One of his bikes is known as the Widowmaker - for obvious reasons.  So, at some point, he will be on the supply side of the Orthopaedic food chain.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.
He is divorced and has four daughters who are an unquenchable drain on his financial resources - wherever they are in the education cycle.  He entertains a Gothic flight of fantasy that, post-retirement, he might earn a modest crust from writing - but realises that his style needs to become more better.


Tessa Clarke

Tessa Clarke has been working at The Bone & Joint Journal for 25 years, latterly as Head of Administration and HR.  She has travelled extensively during her life and worked in Australia and New Zealand, South Africa and Austria. 

Tessa has a great interest in English literature and is very widely read.Her other interests include Montessori teaching, looking after her allotment, bridge and music. Tessa is a keen sportswoman and enjoys playing tennis, skiing, swimming and running.



Payam Tarassoli

Payam is a second year Orthopaedic Registrar in Bristol and is the current academic representative for the British Orthopaedic Trainees Association. He is a member of the research councils for the British Orthopaedic Association, British Orthopaedic Research Society and Royal Society of Medicine.

As an undergraduate in 2006, Payam was first involved in Orthopaedics when he commenced an intercalated BSc at University College London in Orthopaedic Science, and carried out research into metal ions in arthroplasty at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Stanmore. He graduated from the University of Liverpool Medical School in 2007.

Prior to commencing as a registrar, he was awarded honorary academic status as a research and teaching fellow at the University of Bristol where he began his MD in Robotic Fracture Surgery.

In addition to this, Payam has a keen interest in Sports Medicine, having obtained a Diploma by examination from the Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine in 2011.