FIVE people at the Welsh Ambulance Service have been recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List, it was announced this evening (Wednesday 30 December 2020).
Paramedics Nich Woolf and Sharon Thorpe have been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM), while Area Manager Chris Powell has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).
Meanwhile, Director of Operations Lee Brooks and Ambulance Operations Manager Clare Langshaw have both been awarded the prestigious Queen’s Ambulance Service Medal (QAM).
Chief Executive Jason Killens said: “We’re beyond thrilled that five colleagues have been recognised in the New Year’s Honours List, which is testament not just to their contribution through the Covid-19 pandemic but to their broader commitment to the NHS over many years.
“We’re incredibly proud of all colleagues who go that extra mile for patients and contribute to the development and progression of the ambulance service, at all levels.
“These awards recognise the hard work and dedication of some of our very best ambulance professionals, and I’d like to extend a huge congratulations to our recipients.”
Nich Woolf, a paramedic based in Chepstow, has been awarded a BEM for services to emergency medicine and disaster response.He has almost 40 years’ experience in the ambulance service having joined Somerset Ambulance Service in 1980, Avon Ambulance Service in 1991 and eventually the Welsh Ambulance Service in 2001.
Nich has been on more than 20 first aid missions across the world teaching paramedicine to his local counterparts, including in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Ethiopia and Senegal.
In February, he went to volunteer on the island of Vanuatu in the South Pacific Ocean, a trip which was supposed to last two months, but the Covid-19 pandemic and Cyclone Harold saw Nich stay until October to support the relief effort.Nich is also a founding member of the Festival Medical Services charity, set up to provide medical services at large-scale events, including at Glastonbury Festival in his native Somerset.
Sharon Thorpe, a paramedic and clinical team leader based in Pontypool, has been awarded a BEM for services to paramedics and ambulance staff.
Sharon has had a 27-year career in the ambulance service, having joined at the age of 32, following in the footsteps of husband Carl, who was an allocator in the control room.
The mother-of-three is also a long-standing Trade Union representative and Assistant Branch Secretary for the GMB union.
Chris Powell, the Trust’s Area Manager for the 111/NHS Direct Wales service, has been awarded an MBE for services to healthcare and the 111 service in Wales after a near 40-year career in the NHS.
She joined NHS Direct Wales in 2000 as a Senior Nurse Advisor and in 2013, was promoted to Head of Services for Clinical Contact Centres, responsible for the running of five contact centres across Wales.
Since 2016, Chris has played an instrumental role in the development and implementation of the new 111 service, an amalgamation of NHS Direct Wales and GP out-of-hours services which is currently being rolled out across Wales.
Lee Brooks has more than a decade of senior leadership experience in the ambulance sector having worked in London, New Zealand and more recently Australia, where he was Executive Director of Operations for the South Australia Ambulance Service.
He first joined the Welsh Ambulance Service in January 2013 as its Head of Service for Clinical Contact Centres, and re-joined in July 2019 as Director of Operations, based in Cwmbran.
Lee, who began his career as a Metropolitan Police constable, has had a pivotal role in the Trust’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and also has helped to establish the new Operational Delivery Unit, set up to address pressure across the unscheduled care system.
He has also spearheaded a project which led to the recruitment of 60 extra clinicians, with a further 70 expected to be in post by March 2021.
Clare Langshaw is the Trust’s Ambulance Operations Manager (Resilience and Specialist Operations), and has also played a crucial role in the Trust’s Covid-19 response.
Clare, who has had a 26-year career in the ambulance service, has led the organisation and delivery of the Trust’s Incident Coordination Centre through the pandemic, while undertaking a Tactical Advisor role.
She is also responsible for the development and delivery of a training course to ensure the colleagues are poised and prepared to respond in a major incident, which has seen the Trust awarded foundation course status from the National Ambulance Resilience Unit, the nationally recognised providers of Ambulance Command training in the UK.
Clare also has a National Inter-Agency Liaison Officer role and advises colleagues on how ambulance services should be organised in the face of challenging circumstances.
Among the other Welsh emergency service colleagues recognised is Sergeant Timothy Barrell of South Wales Police, who has been awarded a Queen’s Police Service Medal.
Meanwhile, Richard Lee, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Director of Operations until November 2018 and now a Chief Operating Officer at St John Ambulance, has been awarded an MBE for services to healthcare during Covid-19.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “In a year when so many have made sacrifices to protect our NHS and save people’s lives, the outstanding efforts of those receiving honours today are a welcome reminder of the strength of human spirit, and of what can be achieved through courage and compassion.
“The 2021 New Year Honours offer us an opportunity to salute their dedication and recognise many who have gone above and beyond in their contribution to our country.
“As we begin a new year and continue to come together to fight this virus, may their service and stories be an inspiration to us all.”