Covid Heroes are honoured

By JULIET LUNAM – 11th October 2020

Queen rewards South West residents who helped during pandemic

Across the country, people young and old, famous and unknown are celebrating receiving awards from the Queen in her delayed birthday honours list. Volunteers, business leaders, medical experts and entertainers, to name a few, are being rewarded for their efforts in a vast array of fields.

From the ranks of the celebrities actress Maureen Lipman and TV cook Mary Berry were made Dames, actor David Suchet received a knighthood, singer songwriter Joan Armatrading, got an MBE, as did Manchester United and England football star Marcus Rashford and fitness coach Joe Wicks, for their efforts during the covid-19 pandemic.

The birthday honours list was delayed this year to allow time for people to be nominated for their work during the pandemic. Dozens of people from all walks of life across the South West have been awarded medals and titles to mark their outstanding efforts and achievements.

Sacha Pemberthy from Exmouth has been given an OBE for her services to business. The 52-year-old is the CEO of Fair4All Finance which works with people who are struggling financially.

This year she has led the organisation’s work on an affordable credit scale-up scheme and a Covid-19 resilience fund. The two programmes lent some £100 million and served 122,000 people.

Since 2015, Mr Penberthy has been a co-chairperson on the Inclusive Economy Partnership Advisory Board which brings together business people, government officials and others to tackle some of the UK’s most pressing social and economic problems.

Lucy Baker is 48 and from Nailsworth in Gloucestershire. She is the services technology director at BT and has been awarded an MBE for services to the NHS during the pandemic.

Ms Baker led the response for her team at BT as well as using the opportunity to speed up the health applications of 5G technology. She worked on supporting the LifeLines project which aimed to connect families with their critically ill loved ones in ICUs and was used around the whole country in 150 hospitals.

Ms Baker also helped with the set up of Nightingale Hospitals and pioneered a remote diagnostic station in Birmingham which could be used in future in various settings including care homes.

Another MBE has gone to 70- year-old Barnabus Haughton from Bristol for services to the community. Mr Haughton set up a cookery school, in Knowle West, back in 2011 called the Square Food Foundation which became a charity supporting adults and children in south Bristol.

He and the team teach people to cook from scratch and learn about the ingredients they are using.

When lockdown hit, all classes were suspended but Mr Haughton’s team launched a meal delivery service for families eligible for free school meals and, in partnership with one of the local schools, Oasis Academy Connaught, gave out more than 12,000 meals in a month.

The foundation also gave out meal kits for weekends so families could cook for themselves with preweighed ingredients and recipe sheets.

“I’ve been involved in food education for 25 years,” Mr Haughton said. “I had a cookery school for children in my first restaurant and when I quit restaurants it was a natural progression to start something up which would make a difference in Bristol.

“My dream is to get food education on the curriculum in primary and secondary schools; it’s a real gateway to getting children interested in other things.

“We were pretty ready when lockdown hit to deliver meals, being connected with the community and schools and people who might need food. “It was easy for us to switch and we were really lucky to have something to do when everything was closed.

“The MBE is brilliant. It’s an amazing feeling but, as corny as it sounds, it’s also about the team. I feel it’s a reflection of what we have achieved together. It’s an organisation I have such love and respect for.”

The head of an agency which supports Bristol’s voluntary groups has been made an MBE. Sandra Meadows, aged 56, is being commended for her services to the community after helping coordinate a pandemic response to support the most vulnerable during lockdown.