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Scientist's behind Oxford vaccine recognised in Queen's Birthday Honours

PA Media by John Cairns/University of Oxford

Some residents in Oxfordshire have also been honoured.

The life-saving work of Covid-19 vaccine design and delivery is today celebrated in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine mastermind Professor Sarah Gilbert has become an honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE), for services to Science and Public Health.

She said 'I am humbled to receive this honour. I have worked in the development of vaccines against infectious pathogens for many years and in the last 17 months have been able to draw on all that I have learned in order to respond to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. I have been so fortunate to work with a very talented and dedicated team who made it possible to develop a vaccine in less time than anyone thought possible.'

Professor Gilbert is one of seven researchers based at the University of Oxford who have been honoured for their work on the jab. They are:

"    Peter Horby, Director of the Pandemic Sciences Centre, and Professor of Emerging and Infectious Diseases and Global Health, who becomes a Knight Bachelor for services to Medical Research.
"    Martin Landray, Deputy Director of the Big Data Institute, and Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology, who becomes a Knight Bachelor for services to Science and Public Health.
"    Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, and Professor of Paediatric Infection and Immunity, who becomes a Knight Bachelor for services to Public Health, particularly during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
"    Catherine Green, Associate Professor at the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics, who is appointed as an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), for services to Science and Public Health.
"    Teresa Lambe, Associate Professor at the Jenner Institute, who is appointed as an honorary Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), for services to Science and Public Health.

Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said:
'I am absolutely delighted by the recognition of our extraordinary colleagues who have worked so creatively and so tirelessly to develop a vaccine, and therapeutics, to protect us all from COVID-19. They and the teams that have supported them are saving lives around the world every day. We are all deeply proud of them.'

Meanwhile, an NHS boss who oversaw the health service’s Brexit preparations, only to be thrust into leading its Covid-19 response, has been knighted.

Keith Willett, who is professor of orthopaedic trauma surgery at Oxford University, told the PA news agency: “ Literally up until the week before, I was then asked if I would take on responsibility for leading the response to what then was an early coronavirus we knew little about.

“I’ve been a trauma surgeon all my life and so dealing with the unexpected and managing with little information and responding to incidents is what I’m professionally trained to do,” he said.

“I thought Brexit was the biggest role I’d ever been asked to take on, outside of clinical practice."

Prof Willett said he was “honoured” to be knighted, but added: “I’m also acutely aware of the very many really good people in the NHS and wider health community who in recent times have all given so much, and for some, that’s everything.”

Some residents in Oxfordshire have also been recgonised. 

Annette England, the Director of Biomax Scientific Consultancy Ltd, has been given an MBE for her work during the pandemic. The 56-year-old Bicester resident helped bring people together to supply the Oxford vaccine.

Kenneth Horn MBE, from Wheatley, who is a member of the Mobile Met Uni - a sponsored reserve unit of the RAF - has been honoured for his services to Operational Meteorology. He provides  meteorological support to UK and allied forces in the UK and overseas. 

Oxford resident David John Almond, a Children’s Author, is recognised for his services to Literature while Joanna Mary Dyson from Banbury, Head of Food at FareShare, gets a nod her for services to charitable Food Provision during Covid-19.

Catherine McGill from Witney has been given a BEM Medal for services to the Arts - her Charity, Folk Arts Oxford, runs the annual Folk Weekend Oxford folk festival every April. During lockdown she produce her entire festival online within the space of four weeks. 

Elsewhere, Bjorn Hugh Henry Watson, 78, from Faringdon is awarded a BEM for services to the community in Shrivenham. During COVID-19 he has provided door support for vulnerable and shielded residents. 

Michelle Law, who works as a bursar at The Meadows care home in Didcot has been awarded a British Empire Medal too - for her work during the pandemic. Michelle, who works for The Orders of St John Care Trust (OSJCT), took on many extra roles such as housekeeper, chef, and family liaison during the initial wave when asymptomatic colleagues were at home in isolation and was put forward for the Award for services to care home residents far above and beyond her day-to-day role.

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