31 December 2020
The Governor’s Office is pleased to announce the following New Year Honours 2021 Awards, endorsed by Her Majesty the Queen, to be published on the Overseas and International list on 31 December 2021:
- Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) to Adam Williams, Captain of the MV Helena
- British Empire Medal (BEM) to Rhys Hobbs, St Helena Government Project Manager.
Both of these nominations were made on the basis of outstanding contribution to the COVID-19 response on St Helena.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic back in March 2020 which led to the cessation of the weekly South African Airlink flights, increasing pressures were placed on ensuring that the Island continued to receive supplies from abroad and to maintain its link to the outside world. At the time the MV Helena was the Island’s only physical link operating a steady service between Cape Town, Ascension and St Helena and bringing essential cargo to supply both Islands.
Adam Williams at the helm of this maritime operation as Captain of the vessel is being recognised for the commitment and dedication shown to ensuring the continuous operation of the MV Helena at such an unprecedented time. Despite the many challenges, uncertainties and setbacks faced, including the South African lockdown, Captain Williams readily assumed and discharged the additional pressures of responsibility. The enforced restrictions for seafarers added to the challenges and Captain Williams and his crew spent prolonged periods on-board without any shore leave. Despite all of this, Captain Williams maintained a positive outlook and kept up morale on-board. Working with his crew he kept the vessel running to schedule to deliver goods, including food and medical supplies, and at times carried a limited number of passengers between Ascension, St Helena and South Africa.
Captain Williams remains committed to his role fully recognising how dependent the Island is on services of the MV Helena and how it’s continued operation is crucial for sustaining life.
Captain Williams commented:
“The fallout from COVID-19 created many challenges and hurdles across all sectors of society. Severe restrictions on the way we operate at sea and in ports meant having to quickly alter the way we do things, finding solutions and trying to make sense of a rapidly developing and often confusing situation.
“Finding ourselves stranded aboard our ship for many months on end, not knowing when we would get home or to see our loved ones again has been both a physical and psychological challenge.
“With the disruption to air access, we were fully aware of how much the Islands were solely relying on the MV Helena. Recognising the importance of getting vital supplies through to the Islands has been a constant motivator and a team effort by everyone both aboard and ashore.”
The renovation of Bradley’s Camp as the designated isolation and quarantine facility for managing COVID-19 on St Helena started in late March. This required precise planning and effective management to be completed in time for passengers arriving on the first charter flight in April 2020, and has since been used to quarantine new arrivals to the Island up until December 2020.
Rhys Hobbs is being recognised for his role as SHG Project Manager who led a small dedicated workforce to upgrade and transform the dis-used camp into a functional medical site with care units as well as separate isolation and quarantine areas, all within a period of just six weeks.
This was very challenging given the tight deadlines and plans had to be constantly reviewed to align with the evolving global understanding of COVID-19 and updating protocols of Public Health England (PHE) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). The task was made even more difficult as there were very little resources available on-Island at the time with reduced imports as a result of the South African lockdown. Rhys showed outstanding leadership in ensuring the project kept to timescales and motivated his team to deliver work of a high standard.
Bradleys Camp has so far served the intended purpose of a front line defence for safeguarding the Island’s population. From January 2021, when home quarantining will be allowed, the facility will only be used for those who do not have suitable homes to quarantine in, and as a critical holding place for those who might test positive for COVID-19.
“I am honoured to receive this award; the world is constantly learning about COVID-19 and I am proud that the Camp has been able to serve as one of the Island’s preventative measures in enabling St Helena to remain COVID-19 free, whilst allowing us to further prepare in the event that the virus comes to the Island.
“Although I have been nominated and awarded this honour I feel it should recognise everyone who put in a tremendous amount of effort to prepare the camp for use across Government, the private sector and members of the public. Particularly those who continue to work in the Camp, and those many people who support COVID-19 preparedness outside of it. The level of support people gave demonstrated to me how St Helena’s community can work together to achieve something remarkable in such challenging circumstances. Overall, I am glad that we have been able to keep St Helena safe, and due to the level of planning and determination of people here, I am confident that there will continue to be no community spread of COVID-19 in the future.”
Nominate Someone for an Honour
Honours are awarded to recognise outstanding achievements and service to the community. For example: long-term voluntary service, innovation and entrepreneurship, and improving life for people less able to help themselves.
Governor’s Office, St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
31 December 2020