Pandemic heroes on Yorkshire’s New Year’s honours list

The Queen’s 2021 New Year honours list features recipients from the county who dedicated their time to helping people cope with the upheaval inflicted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

And it includes people who contributed to the sports and performing arts – two sectors which have been particularly hard hit by the restrictions forced upon the country by the virus.

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.”

Seven staff at two Yorkshire headquartered supermarket chains have also won recognition for their work to respond to the devastating impact of the pandemic.

Daniel Owens, online grocery development manager at Asda received an MBE for services to retail customers during the Covid-19 response.

While other recipients include: 37-year-old Sarah Joyce, of York, (awarded a BEM), superintendent optometrist at Asda;  Ella Collins, 52, of Springthorpe, (BEM), community champion and occupational health manager at Morrisons; Pam Abbott, 55, of Leeds (BEM), community champion at Morrisons; and Sarah Cairns, 31, of Huddersfield (BEM), senior programme manager at Asda Online Grocery.

Joyce’s dedication meant Asda has been able to keep its Optical Departments open during the Coronavirus pandemic.

She worked with lens providers to ensure they could remain operational for emergency repairs and services and continue to provide vital services to patients.

Collins worked with Public Health England to manage the impact of the pandemic, establishing processes for staff and managers to follow when reporting positive cases of Covid-19.

Throughout the pandemic, she has monitored the welfare of colleagues who were in hospital as a result of the virus and has reminded management teams of the support available to them.

Abbott made herself permanently available, answering calls in the evening and her days off to ensure vulnerable people would not be left without food.

She made sure fresh food and essentials continued to make their way to foodbanks, youth groups and animal shelters when donations from regular sources ran low.

Cairns was instrumental in making sure those the Government identified as extremely vulnerable, unable to get out and without a support network, had access to essentials.

She played a huge role in setting up a specific delivery pass (called the priority pass) for extremely vulnerable customers.

Also recognised were two of Asda’s data scientists, James Cameron, and Rafal Olbert who both received BEMs