The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust’s Communications Manager, Damian Staples, celebrated receiving the Royal seal of approval from the Queen in her New Year’s Honours List by collecting his medal.
Damian, from Worksop, received a British Empire Medal for services to the NHS during Covid-19.
The 32-year-old, who has worked at the Trust for three years and the NHS for seven years, received the medal from Sir John and Lady Peace at The Manor in Caunton, near Newark in Nottinghamshire, on Thursday 22 July
He said: “I’d been looking forward to collecting my medal since the New Year’s honours were announced in December and it was a really lovely day out with my parents, who felt really proud. We got dressed up and enjoyed a fabulous afternoon tea outside in the gardens at The Manor, which made us feel special.
“It’s a wonderful accolade and something I’ll never forget achieving. I’m sure it will be a career highlight for me. 2020 was a strange year and we have all had to roll up our sleeves and do whatever needed doing. I’m pleased that what I did made a difference.”
The BEM was founded in 1917 and was awarded for ‘meritorious’ actions by civilians or military personnel. It was scrapped in 1993, but nearly 20 years later, Prime Minister David Cameron brought the medal back, with around 300 awarded every year to community and voluntary heroes.
Damian achieved the BEM for keeping Trust colleagues and the public up to date on the ever-changing and complex Covid-19 situation. He worked around the clock and provided a consistent, clear and informative approach to communications, working with colleagues at the Rotherham NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, neighbouring NHS trusts, the council and the voluntary sector.
He strengthened new working relationships with the local media to ensure balanced messages have been regularly provided to the public, reinforcing the national messaging and providing a reassuring voice in such difficult, stressful circumstances.
Damian was often the first point of contact for Trust colleagues needing swift advice from the Staff Covid-19 Helpline, which was established by the Trust to provide a triage service for those who needed to access tests and information about Coronavirus.
Damian also provided help and support wherever it was needed, such as helping the Rotherham Hospital and Community Charity receive and distribute generous donations. He would frequently begin work hours early at 6am rather than 9am, to further support staff, and he even continued to work from home while battling Coronavirus himself.
Michael Wright, the Trust’s Deputy Chief Executive, said: “It’s absolutely wonderful to hear that Damian has now received his British Empire Medal for services relating to Covid-19. All our staff have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic. During this period, Damian ensured that important information reached our colleagues here at the Trust to support them as they cared for our patients. On behalf of everyone at the Trust, I would like to congratulate Damian on this well-deserved recognition.”