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Brave hospital worker awarded medal for helping fight Ebola

A special medal issued by the Government to recognise the bravery and service of the British workers who tackled Ebola in West Africa has been awarded to a local Worcester man.

 

John Smith Ebola hero

John Smith, who works in Microbiology at Worcestershire Royal Hospital, was presented with the medal by hospital trust Interim Chief Executive, Chris Tidman.

In June, John flew out to West Africa for five weeks to lead a team of NHS volunteers helping prevent the spread of the deadly disease in Port Loko, Sierra Leone.

The medal was minted on the request of the Government to recognise the hard work and bravery of all those who gave up their time to travel to West Africa this year helping people in desperate need.

This is the first time a medal has been created specifically to recognise those who have tackled a humanitarian crisis and is in recognition of the highly dangerous environment that workers were required to enter.

John said: "It was a quite remarkable experience working with my team of amazingly motivated and hardworking people from many different lab backgrounds. As I have had some experience travelling in developing countries and some lab experience in Guatemala I thought I would be well suited to help.

"For me bravery did not feature at all. I have been working with pathogens for 30 years, we had the best training possible and I believe I had the skills and experience to help with this crisis and prevent the spread of this terrible disease.

"I felt strongly that I had to respond and put myself forward. I thank all those in my department for covering for me while I was gone, my manager and the Trust for allowing me to go."

Chris Tidman said: "I’m delighted to be able to present this medal to John. This medal honours the outstanding courage and bravery that John has shown to go out and help people in desperate need. Congratulations John."

The medal has been designed by John Bergdahl, an engraver with over 40 years’ experience and who recently designed a new coin set to celebrate the birth of Prince George.

John Bergdahl’s design was chosen following a competition run by the Royal Mint Advisory Committee. It shows a flame on a background depicting the Ebola virus – above this are the words “For Service” and below “Ebola Epidemic West Africa”.

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