Dr John Knight AM (Dr James Wright) is one of Australia’s best loved media personalities and Australia’s first celebrity doctor. At 89 years old, he was recently awarded the title of New South Wales Senior Australian of the year and is a National Finalist for Senior Australian of the Year 2017.
Many of us remember Dr Wright from the Mike Walsh Show where, for twenty five years, his ability to make medicine engaging for the average Australian was ground breaking. According to Mike Walsh, Dr Knight was invited to come on the show on one day when they were running short of guests. Walsh said “He was very entertaining, gained a following and so became a member of the team. He was frivolous, which was unusual for a medic, but had a very good knowledge and was very well informed,” He stayed on for 25 years, outlasting Walsh, then host Ray Martin and finally working with Kerri-Anne Kennerley to become the longest-running member of the cast.
But what’s he up to these days? and why did he receive the nomination for ‘Senior Australian of the Year 2017?
Well, believe it or not…he is still an practicing GP in a northern Sydney suburb and he writes for a variety of professional publications including Post Script magazine (for Chemists and Pharmacy Assistants), Signs a subscription lifestyle magazine, and provides a media tracking service for pharmacists. He also has a 24-hour-a-day national telephone information system which operates 365 days a year, providing succinct information on a wide variety of health topics. But there‘s more….
Dr Knight recently completed his 26th book, and has had two books published per year for the past 13 years. Several have become international best sellers, published in twelve overseas countries. These include various translations and Braille and tape, for the blind. John is an unpretentious man has dedicated his life (and significant earnings to charitable causes).
In 1973, John and his late wife Noreen established Medi-Aid Centre Foundation, a charity that provides accommodation for the elderly, particularly those who are frail, have no family support and no home. Now at 89, John has battled through heartbreak, personal and financial loss and cancer, but he’s kept buying property for Medi-Aid and now has almost 1,000 investments – including hundreds of Surfers Paradise waterfront apartments – that are rented out for a meagre sum. While John could afford to live in luxury, he chooses to live in the same un-renovated home where he raised his four children and has lived for the past 60 years.
Back in 2013 he was quoted as saying that he can “live well on a budget of $250 a week, $75 of that sum paid to his daughter who helps him with the shopping and cooking. “What would you do with any more money?” he said.
His life hasn’t always been a bed of roses as some might believe. In 2006 he lost around sixty million dollars to, his former best friend who Dr Knight labelled as a pathological fraudster. He is reported as saying “This is unfortunate. I made a bad decision but life moves on.” He also reportedly suffered depression after a battle with the ATO several years ago. Despite these tragic circumstances he has fought on and maintained his goal through the Medi-Aid Centre Foundation to provide low-cost housing for senior Australian’s who were down on their luck.
Dr Knight recently said the rising cost of living had made it increasingly difficult for people to survive on the aged pension.“If we can make it (accommodation)affordable for them, they’ll eat right, they’ll get their right medication and look after themselves and they can keep their independence and have a quality of life,” he said.
We salute you Dr Knight! You are a fine example of a great Aussie who deserves the recognition for your contribution to our society.