31 December 2020

New Year Honours 2021: Red Cross staff and volunteers recognised for their work in the Covid-19 pandemic

Simon Lewis, head of crisis response, and Paul Amadi, chief supporter officer, have both been awarded MBEs in the New Year Honours, 2021.

From the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, Simon Lewis, from Bushey, Hertfordshire, has led the Red Cross national response to support vulnerable people and those in crisis.

As the crisis deepened, Simon oversaw the co-ordination of people, vehicles, protocol and PPE across multiple countries in exceptionally challenging circumstances.

Not only did he co-ordinate tactical cells across the UK to support thousands of people with food parcels and vital medicine deliveries, he also arranged support for Britons stuck on a cruise ship in Cuba and British nationals required to quarantine on rescue flights from China.

Simon says: "I am honoured and very proud to have been nominated for this award, but I truly feel that there are frontline volunteers and staff that deserve it so much more than me.

"Right now, Red Cross staff and volunteers are delivering food parcels for people shielding, providing transport for patients leaving hospital and a friendly voice to speak to on the Red Cross Coronavirus support line.

"I accept this MBE on behalf of the thousands of Red Cross volunteers who are on hand to support people in incredibly difficult situations 365 days a year."

Chief supporter officer, Paul Amadi, from Sydenham, south London, received his MBE for more than two decades of dedicated fundraising work. This includes two and a half years at the Red Cross.

Paul is passionate about fundraising and constantly finds innovative new ways for people to support the Red Cross in a way that suits them.

Before joining the organisation, Paul was made a Fellow of the Institute of Fundraising which he has also chaired. He also set up the Black Fundraisers UK Group and is an active member of the EDI (equality, diversity & inclusion) panel and committee.

Paul says: "I nearly missed the email. I had to read the message a couple of times for it to sink in. Even now, it still doesn't seem real.

"All I have ever done is follow my passion for fundraising. I am incredibly grateful to the people I have worked with who have enabled my success and I am beyond thrilled to be getting an MBE while at the Red Cross, as it’s a truly amazing organisation."

British Empire Medals (BEMs) for five British Red Cross volunteers

Volunteers, Paul Hebborn, Richard Stibbles, Andy Bendon, Golam Chowdhury and Nicola Stove were all awarded BEMs for their tireless work during the crisis.

Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross, said:

“Simon, Paul, Andy, Golam, Richard and Nicola are shining examples of the exemplary staff and volunteers we are lucky to have to support the vital work of the Red Cross.

“They are true humanitarians who work tirelessly to support vulnerable people when they need it most, especially during the past year. I am delighted to see them honoured in this way.

“I would like congratulate them all and thank them for their continued passion for helping to make a difference.”


Golam Chowdhury, like many, thought his nomination was a hoax. He said:

“I found out about my New Year Honour by email, but I thought it was spam,” says Golam.

“I had no idea that I had even been nominated. When the second email arrived I started to think that maybe it was real. It is so humbling that someone took the time to put me forward.”

Since March, British Red Cross staff and volunteers have reached 1.5 million vulnerable people, providing food, medicine, emotional support and transport to and from hospital.


British Empire Medal (BEM) recipients:

Paul Hebborn, emergency response officer - Using skills from the Red Cross and those gained as a fire station officer, Paul managed and guided local volunteers to help meet the needs of the public during the pandemic.

He organised teams to go shopping, pack food parcels, deliver medication and leaflets, as well as arranging welfare checks on the most vulnerable members of his community. Paul has helped over 3,000 people across Northamptonshire often working seven days a week for months at a time.

Richard Stibbles, ambulance first responder - Richard has been a Red Cross volunteer for over 30 years. 

At the height of the pandemic he left his home in Scotland and selflessly volunteered to do three deployments in London, working 10-hour days in full PPE transporting patients with Covid-19 to hospital and other patients to care homes or to their families.

Andy Bendon, emergency response volunteer - At the beginning of the Red Cross Covid-19 response in the UK, Andy stepped in to set up and manage the Cambridgeshire food distribution warehouse in the shell of a building.

From physically getting the building fit for use to briefing and leading a team of volunteers and managing the first ever food delivery from 8am-8pm, he was instrumental to its success and made sure nothing was turned away. Andy has volunteered over 500 hours, spending his days organising the warehouse and his evenings in supermarkets buying specific items that have been requested by members of his community

Golam Chowdhury, refugee support worker and emergency response volunteer. When COVID-19 hit, Golam selflessly led many of the newly organised support services for vulnerable migrants in Hampshire.

He mobilised and delivered food, medicine and other essentials to dozens of isolated, shielded households, as well as making welfare checks on vulnerable people, assessing hardship needs and pioneering ways to safely provide destitute members of the community with shopping e-vouchers.

Nicola Stove - awarded for services to remote communities of Northern Scotland during Covid-19. In March 2020 Nicola became part of the British Red Cross Covid-19 management task force for the North of Scotland. In her role she helped provide food parcels, medication and financial aid to people across the highlands & island in need, even sourcing a fridge for a particularly vulnerable couple.

Nicola helped co-ordinate welfare visits, patient transport, PPE distribution to care homes and surgeries, as well as providing assistance to several councils and food banks. For months Nicola worked nearly every day making sure nobody went hungry or was left in a dangerous place in the Highlands and Island

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