Dr. Bernard Shiu’s earliest childhood memory is of a hot summer’s day in Hong Kong, his city of birth. Together with his cousins, he experienced the taste of ice cream for the very first time. This memory appears to be reflective of his childhood surrounded by love, music and a propensity to dismantle ‘machinery’ so he could enjoy the challenges of the re assembly. Bernard’s Mum was not as enamoured as he, when an ‘upgrade’ to the television, resulted in it turning on whenever the telephone rang!
Mr Shiu senior was perhaps the initial catalyst for Bernard and medicine finding each other. His words, “Son, do not fix things that are not broken”, could be a loose paraphrase of the historical Hippocratic oath “Primum non nocere, First do no harm.”
As a child Bernard could be described as always busy; obviously a precursor to his life as an adult! He struggled to always ‘follow the rules’, which at times put him at odds with his parents and teachers. If Bernard had not pursued medicine his other life passions may have led him to be a professional jazz musician. Musicians say ‘it is the silence between the notes that makes the music’. Listening in the silence and intuitively hearing what may not be verbalised, is a skill Bernard brings to his patients and their healing.
Bernard also entertained dreams of being a screenplay writer. The Shawshank Redemption is one of his favourite films and a line from same one of his life mantras, “Get busy living, or get busy dying”.
Although medicine took precedent over jazz, Bernard and his talented family still enjoy a life of music.
Twelve years ago, Bernard and his wife Lydia made their home in Australia. Their first Christmas found them serving their new community of Geelong, playing live music at the Geelong Community Christmas Day Lunch (GCCDL). Bernard, together with a band of community minded people, has continued the tradition and the honour of preparing, serving and sharing lunch with many vulnerable and amazing humans. The amazing real-life stories, the generosity and the people who return to help, because their own challenging life circumstances have improved, are just some of the things about the GCCDL that warms Bernard’s heart and fuels his passion to continue.
Bernard is fervent about his medical career and his patients. He is cognizant of a holistic approach, investing time and care in each individual. Evidenced based research, across all disciplines cites ‘relationships’ as key in best practice. In 2020 Bernard was the worthy winner of the Victorian GP of The Year Award. A fitting tribute to someone who overtly and conscientiously invests in his patients and capitalizes on lifelong learning, upskilling and research opportunities…. the personification of one of his favourite John Wesley quotes, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can”.
Ten years ago, Bernard and Lydia welcomed their daughter Isabel, followed by Arthur’s birth seven years ago.
‘Family’ is Bernard’s purpose and passion and it is his family that can elicit the most emotional responses from their proud and loving Dad/Husband. His children think he’s ‘Ironman’ and his ironclad wish for them is that they fulfill their individual potential and always be joyful.
The inequality of care in the health system and the lack of awareness in regard to climate change are of enormous concern to Bernard. People who know him recognise problem solving and innovative ideas as his ‘super powers’. Hopefully, in his time poor environment, Bernard may still find time to explore innovative solutions to improve both.
Bernard’s favourite holiday destination is “anywhere I have not been before”. No doubt this openness to new experiences and willingness to embrace adventure are reflective of his life journey.
When asked what message he would give to his teenage self, Bernard responded, “She is not the one”. Fortuitously for him he found ‘the one’, when he met his wonderful wife Lydia at a church service in London.
Fortuitously for many, most especially our sick and vulnerable. Bernard, Lydia and their children have geographically found ‘the one’ again and made Geelong their home and their community.
Story: Jacinta Foster-Raimondo