University of Brighton Alumni Association

Photo of desmond macaulay with the staff of queenwood library - there are two trolleys of books in the foreground

Alum helping to train first physiotherapists in Sierra Leone. 

We caught up with alum Desmond Macaulay to learn about the work he is doing to help train the first physiotherapists in his home country of Sierra Leone, as well as his clinic in the UK.  

He recently came back to visit us and is pictured with staff from Queenwood Library. As well as being involved in training the physiotherapists he has been helping with providing library resources for the medical library they will use at the Tonkolili District College of Health Science, Masanga, Sierra Leone 

He was therefore very appreciative to receive withdrawn library books from Queenwood Library for the medical library, he is involved in building back home. 

He told us more about his work and how his time studying MSc Rehabilitation Science at Brighton contributed to his career path. 


“I previously gained a BSc Hons in Sports Rehabilitation from St Mary’s College, London and after qualifying, I then set up my first Sports Injury and Rehabilitation clinic at a squash club in Wimbledon, London.  

“Whilst running the clinic on a part time basis I then enrolled in MSc in Rehabilitation Science at the University of Brighton, where I graduated in 2012.  

“I then opened my second clinic: Physiotherapy and Sports Injury clinic in Lavender Hill, Battersea, London. Providing assessment, treatments and injury management for athletes and the non-sporting population; in addition to specific athletes who partake in extreme sports such as ultra marathons, parkour/free running.  

“I am also partnering with Lambeth College, London, providing work experience placement for students, plus, one to one mentoring for sports students.  Also, providing observational placements for students and those who come from other non-medical professions wishing to train in our profession or other health sciences.” 

Work in Sierra Leone 

“Physiotherapy as a profession and academic training is at the infancy stage in Sierra Leone and in the need of support.   

“The academic training of physiotherapy students is managed by Mr Kebbie (Head of Department), Mr Abu Amara (Physiotherapist in-charge) and other stake holders at The Tonkolili District College of Health Sciences, Sierra Leone.  

“In 2022 and 2023, I spent time in Sierra Leone; clinical training, mentoring, supervising final year dissertation and sponsoring physiotherapy students who are the first to be trained in Sierra Leone.  

“I am currently setting up a library at The Tonkolili District College of Health Sciences, Masanga Sierra Leone with the assistance of University of Brighton Queenwood Library, Eastbourne.  

“Additionally, I provide support towards the development of BSc and Diploma academic training for physiotherapy students in Sierra Leone, which contributes to the funding for continued professional development as well as student welfare.  

“This promotes physiotherapy as a viable healthcare service accessible to everyone, with the aim of increasing access to a sustainable rehabilitation therapy in the community and acute setting across Sierra Leone in partnership with other stakeholders.” 

His time at Brighton  

“Personally, it helped to develop my interpersonal skills and confidence; how to maintain good relationships, which is very important in my current position as a physiotherapist.   

“Professionally, due to the intensity of the course, this has enabled me to develop leadership and teaching skills; During the initial year I had to find a clinical placement; organise my time during clinical placements; prioritising academic course work; presentations; student self-learning sessions; continue regular professional development; audit my clinical performance and peer to peer learning sessions.   

“This has been of great benefit in my present role as sole physiotherapist running a busy private practice which more recently has enabled me to present my business model to stakeholders, as well as successfully achieving clinical outcome measures.  

“On reflection, it was such a joy coming back to campus following our placements and seeing other students sharing our experiences with the placement coordinators, lecturers and dropping off or collecting text books from the library.” 

Since graduating and advice for current students 

“One of things I am most proud of since graduating is to see my clinic grow and continue to grow to what it is at the present, fills me with joy, humility and satisfaction.  

“Secondly, mentoring physiotherapy and sports students and the general population (UK and Sierra Leone) gives me great satisfaction.  In addition to contributing to the success and development of others; and maintain a content mindset during the process.  

“My advice to current students would be to learn from your past experiences and embrace the challenges.” 

AlumnihealthhealthcarephysiophysiotherapyUniversity of Brighton

Alex Petrovic • September 4, 2023

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