Christian charity Mercy Ships documentary wins top broadcasting award

A National Geographic series about the work of Christian charity Mercy Ships has won a prize for Best Human Interest Documentary at the Association for International Broadcasting Awards in London last night.

The Surgery Ship follows life aboard the world's largest non-governmental hospital ship, the Africa Mercy. The ship offers free, life-transforming surgery, medical care and training to people along the West African coast.

Dr Michelle White, a volunteer who featured in the series, with producer Madeleine Hetherton on stage for the award.

The series created by Media Stockade was chosen as the winner from an international shortlist that included Channel 4 and Channel 5 shows, as well as programmes from Denmark, the Republic of Korea and Belgium.

Series producer Madeleine Hetherton said: 'I'm delighted to receive this award -– we are immensely proud of the series. Documenting the extraordinary work of Mercy Ships has been a privilege and we hope it continues to be seen widely.'

Mercy Ships UK executive director Lea Milligan said: 'We are hugely excited that The Surgery Ship has won this award. We would like to thank National Geographic for commissioning the series, and Media Stockade for doing such a fantastic job at capturing the work of the heroic volunteers on our hospital ship. I am confident that this will lead to The Surgery Ship being aired more widely, and that it will help us to expand our family of Mercy Ships supporters who make our work possible.'

A Beninois port authority worker awaits the Africa Mercy hospital ship on the dock in Cotonou, Benin.

Broadcast as a series of eight episodes, The Surgery Ship follows the story of the volunteer medics onboard the Africa Mercy as they face profound professional and emotional challenges. Often moved by the courage of their patients, the team battles conditions seldom seen in the Western world. Ingenuity and innovative techniques are required to heal life-threatening tumours, deformed limbs, congenital defects and severe burns.