Queen's Birthday Honours: Sheffield and South Yorkshire champions praised for Covid response in honours list

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People across Sheffield and South Yorkshire have been named in The Queen's Birthday Honours list for their work during the pandemic and beyond.

Sheffield Council’s new chief executive Kate Josephs is one of those to be recognised and is made a Companion of the Order of the Bath for public service, having served as a director general in the cabinet office before her current role.

Colin Stewart, area director, Work and Health Services at the Department for Work and Pensions in Sheffield has received an OBE.

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And Dr Thushan de Silva has been given an MBE for services to Covid-19 research.

Kate Josephs, Thurshantha de Silva and Jean MakinKate Josephs, Thurshantha de Silva and Jean Makin
Kate Josephs, Thurshantha de Silva and Jean Makin

Dr de Silva is a senior clinical lecturer and honorary consultant physician in infectious diseases.

He has played a critical role in the national and global response to the pandemic by leading the Sheffield team of the Covid-19 Genomics UK Consortium in partnership with Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Kate Josephs CEO of Sheffield City Council. Picture Scott MerryleesKate Josephs CEO of Sheffield City Council. Picture Scott Merrylees
Kate Josephs CEO of Sheffield City Council. Picture Scott Merrylees

Genomic sequencing helps the understanding of Covid-19 and its spread, and guides treatments and the impact of interventions in the future.

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Dr de Silva’s work has been performed alongside his duties as a NHS doctor, seeing many Covid-19 patients on the infectious diseases and intensive care units of the Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

Throughout the pandemic, he has coordinated research on Covid-19, leading a team of specialists which has been developing and trialling new ways of creating antibody testing that could be used to gauge immunity levels of large regional areas.

Dr de Silva, said: “Throughout the pandemic, the entire team here at Sheffield has been exceptional, with so many people coming together to go above and beyond.

"Research during this time has had to be responsive like never before, as things have evolved continuously.

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"The key to our success has been the teamwork ethic that has typified everyone’s attitude across the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.”

Much of Dr de Silva’s work has been done in collaboration with the South Yorkshire Department of Infection and Tropical Medicine at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

He added: “So many factors have played a role in how well our research teams in Sheffield have responded during this time.

"From being part of the national Respiratory High Consequence Infectious Disease unit network, to having a diagnostic laboratory that was one of the first in the UK to offer SARS-CoV-2 testing to NHS staff, and having a Clinical Research Facility team that works tirelessly to support urgent public health research.

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"I’m incredibly grateful for all the support from both the University and NHS departments.”

Kirsten Major, chief executive of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is wonderful news, and I would like to congratulate Thushan on this richly deserved award and his outstanding contribution to Covid-19 research.

"Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Sheffield have a long and proud history of collaborating to deliver pioneering national and international research. This is great news for the city and a fitting acknowledgement of the whole team’s remarkable efforts throughout the pandemic.”

Professor Koen Lamberts, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: "We are very proud of Thushan and his critical work throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

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"The COG-UK consortium has been vital in helping us to understand the virus and has informed the national and global response. This recognition is greatly deserved and I would like to congratulate Thushan and his team on their achievements."

Also receiving an MBE is Jean McVann for services to the community in Rotherham.

Mrs McVann is a founder and chief executive at The Gate Surgery, having also founded the Rosehill Medical Centre and Canklow surgery. For over two decades,The Gate has specialised in providing care for socially excluded and vulnerable groups.

“It’s a huge privilege and honour to receive an MBE,” she said.

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“Particularly in the work I do, I’ve always been passionate about driving quality forward.”

She has also set up services on a voluntary basis including one which helps the homeless by providing healthcare on the streets for those in need.

“Over the past two decades I’ve worked in Rotherham for some of the boroughs most deprived, vulnerable, marginalised groups.

“I put equality at the heart of everything I do,” she added.

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Margaret Stubbs of Barnsley, a member of the patient forum at Health Education England, has received an MBE for services to diversity and inclusion in the NHS.

And Kate Butler from Rotherham has been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to the community during Covid-19.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic she voluntarily took on the role of directing the community of Maltby seven days a week.

She also organised volunteers to support the foodbank when the demand increased from 35, to 269 food parcels a week.

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As a clerk of Maltby Town Council, she supported the elderly and the vulnerable members of the community with their doctors’ appointments, arranging emergency support, and also accepting help offers from any individuals for the betterment of the society as a team.

“I’m very honoured, but it was a whole community that pulled together,” she said.