South West COVID health heroes recognised in New Year Honours List

A pharmacist and a chief nurse who have been at the forefront of the COVID-19 vaccination programme are among six NHS heroes from the South West to be recognised in the New Year Honours List.

Bedminster Pharmacy Superintendent Pharmacist Ade Williams, was awarded an MBE for services to the NHS and to the community in South Bristol, particularly during Covid-19.

In an amazing collective effort Ade and his pharmacy team, helped by the unwavering support of the community, have delivered 50,000 COVID-19 jabs since the start of the vaccination roll-out.

They pulled out all the stops earlier this month and ran a non-stop 13 hour clinic where 1,617 vaccinations were given.

Ade, who has been a pharmacist for 17 years, said: “I feel very undeserving – what I do is what everybody who works in the NHS does.

“What the honour represents is the story of our unique community in South Bristol. How its enormous generosity to reach out and support each other has made sure that no one is left behind.

“There have been so many examples of generosity of spirit such as people who have taken breaks from home schooling and their own lives to stand in the cold for hours to welcome people for their vaccination or deliver prescriptions.

“It is very humbling and empowering to see that when we all work together good things can happen for everyone. It truly represents the community and the NHS at its very best. What a privilege and honour to contribute to both.”

Alongside Ade to receive the high honour is Gloucestershire Hospitals chief nurse Professor Steven Hams, who led the vaccine programme in Gloucestershire.

He has been recognised with an MBE for services to nursing.

Steve said it went without saying that it was great honour and paid tribute to all that he had achieved as reflection of the “remarkable nurses and other colleagues that I have worked alongside.”

Steve was Gloucestershire’s Senior Responsible Officer for the COVID-19 vaccination programme when it began, saying on the recent anniversary: “I was privileged and proud to lead this programme for Gloucestershire. A year ago, the vaccine brought us hope amidst the devastation and sadness of COVID-19 and since then, so many lives have been saved.”

Professor Jonathan Benger, of the Bristol Royal Infirmary, Debbie Fleming, Chief Executive of University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust; Dr Rhoda Allison, of the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, and Infant Feeding Specialist Midwife Marion Copeland, have also been recognised with Honours.

Elizabeth O’Mahony, NHS England and NHS Improvement South West Regional Director, said: “I am delighted to see so many of our dedicated team from the South West recognised in the New Year Honours list, both for work on COVID and for their wider, valued contribution to the NHS.

“Since the start of the pandemic everyone in the NHS across the South West has continued to pull-out all the stops to not only treat and care for those with COVID-19 but to deliver vaccinations to protect people, their loved ones and the wider community from this potentially deadline virus – thank you to you all.

A total of 12 million vaccinations have been given in the region since the COVID-19 vaccine rollout began in December 2020.

More than 80 per cent of eligible people living in the South West have also received their booster jabs.

The NHS in the South West will continue to offer life-saving booster jabs and first and second doses to anyone eligible who has yet to take up the offer over the New Year weekend.

Vaccination sites from pharmacies to large vaccination centres across the region will be open over the New Year weekend.

Booking is best via the National Booking Service but plenty of sites are offering walk in vaccinations too.

Experts say that while first or second dose can help, only boosters provide the protection people really need against Omicron.