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Anyone around the age of 50 will vividly remember Beatocello, the sad clown with the large, small and tiny cellos. Beat Richner entertained an entire generation of Swiss children during the 1970s with his performances. Others will have become familiar with him later on through his charity work as a paediatrician.
Richner rebuilt a destroyed children’s hospital in Phnom Penh in the early 1990s. He has since run it himself and overseen its continual expansion. Over the years, the native of Zurich has also opened three further children’s hospitals in Cambodia. Richner and his teams are said to have treated around 12 million children in the first 10 years of their activities in Asia alone. Almost 90 % of all the nation’s sick children have received treatment from the Swiss doctor at some point. This has earned the tireless man of action the nickname “Doctor God”.
Beat Richner has been awarded two honorary doctorates for his lifetime achievements and was voted “Swiss Person of the Year” in 2002. Yet he remains very modest. The doctor has repeatedy returned to Switzerland to raise money for the hospitals by giving cello concerts. He has worked tirelessly for the children of Cambodia. However, Beat Richner must now take it easy. The 70-year-old is seriously ill and has handed over the management of his hospitals. He has also been forced to cancel planned performances.
Let us hope that Richner is around for the children of this world for a long time to come. Through his hospitals and the character of Beatocello, he has already become a legend.