Thursday 2 November 2017: Reluctant medical heroes from Down Under were thrown into the limelight last night as The Surgery Ship documentary won the Best Human Interest category at the Association for International Broadcasting Awards in London.

The Surgery Ship series follows the medical and ethical challenges onboard the world’s largest civilian hospital ship, staffed by huge-hearted volunteers and operated by international charity Mercy Ships. The Mercy Ship aka The Surgery Ship provides free essential to people living in extreme poverty along the West African coast.

Producer Madeleine Hetherton of Sydney’s Media Stockade takes the audience on a roller-coaster journey of despair, hope and healing during the eight episodes, with success and failure in the face of overwhelming need.

“I’m delighted to receive this award – we are immensely proud of the series,” she explains. “Documenting the extraordinary work of Mercy Ships has been a privilege and we hope it continues to be seen widely.”

Mercy Ships Australia Managing Director Alan Burrell says, “5 billion people don’t have access to safe surgery, and as a result nearly 18 million people die each year. For many, the hospital ship Africa Mercy is their last hope. The Surgery Ship series beautifully captures the stories of ‘unsung heroes’ who step up and help out by volunteering.  We would like to thank National Geographic for commissioning the series, and production company Media Stockade for delivering such high-quality work.”

Commissioned by National Geographic Channel, The Surgery Ship follows volunteer medics on board the Mercy Ship as they are confronted by unbelievable illness that would never been seen in Australia outside a text book. Courageous ingenuity and innovative techniques combined with enormous compassion brings healing to the life-threatening tumours, deformed limbs, congenital defects and severe burns their patients arrive on board with. For many, the Mercy Ship is their last hope.

The Surgery Ship 8-part documentary series will be showing for the first time on National Geographic’s main core channel beginning Friday 1 December at 8.30pm (AEDT).

The Surgery Ship was made with the support of Screen Australia, Screen NSW and produced by Media Stockade


About Mercy Ships

Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class health care services, capacity building and sustainable development to those with little access in the developing world. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $1.3 billion, treating more than 2.56 million direct beneficiaries. The Africa Mercy is crewed by 400 volunteers from up to 40 nations, an average of 1000 each year. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort. With offices in 16 nations, Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time. For more information visit

About Media Stockade

Media Stockade is an independent production company based in Australia. We make dramatic, award winning documentary films for cinema, television and digital platforms. A diversely skilled team of industry professionals, Media Stockade is known for delivering to the highest production standards. Our films have been broadcast widely across over 60 countries around the globe. Dramatic stories are a powerful catalyst for positive change and Media Stockade works to amplify audience awareness and action through its social impact-producing arm dedicated to educational, community and corporate distribution of documentary films. We love working with great people and telling stories that matter.

About National Geographic Partners LLC

National Geographic Partners LLC (NGP), a joint venture between National Geographic and 21st Century Fox, is committed to bringing the world premium science, adventure and exploration content across an unrivalled portfolio of media assets. NGP combines the global National Geographic television channels (National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, Nat Geo PEOPLE) with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities that include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, licensing and e-commerce businesses. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 129 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching over 730 million people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the non-profit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit or, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

For further information, please contact:

Alan Burrell
Managing Director
Mercy Ships Australia
[email protected]
+61 (0)7 5437 2992 or +61 (0)466 210234

Melissa Mason
Communications Manager
Mercy Ships Australia
[email protected]
+61 (0)7 5437 2992

Madeleine Hetherton
Series Producer
[email protected]
+61 (0)408 622 203