Scientists from Frimley Park Hospital have been awarded medals from the Queen after serving in Sierra Leone in the battle against Ebola.
Kellie Archer, Adrian Crawford and Louise Hill-King, who all work as biomedical scientists in the pathology service at Frimley Park, worked alongside military colleagues to help combat one of the most deadly and terrifying outbreaks in recent times.
The trio described a mix of emotions over their time in Sierra Leone earlier this year. While the scale of the human tragedy was heart-breaking, they also felt the warmth and gratitude of the Sierra Leonean people.
After a week of additional training, they spent five weeks in some of the worst affected areas testing samples from suspected Ebola patients. Their work was carried out at the highest level of biological protection.
Kellie said: “Samples were brought to us on the back of a motorbike and we were working in a plastic tent. It was a very humbling experience.”
Adrian said: “You can’t really compare what we heard on the news to what we saw on the ground – seeing patients who you don’t know if they are going to make it or not.”
Louise said they were working alongside people from all over the world.
She added: “It really was an international effort and everyone was working together for a common purpose. One of the things I will remember most is the two security guards who wrote a song for us to express their gratitude before we left.”
The Queen approved a Government proposal to issue the medals earlier this year to ‘pay tribute to the service of the incredibly brave people, both military and civilian, who tackled Ebola on behalf of the UK in West Africa’.
In total around 3,000 people will receive the award. It is the first time a medal has been issued to specifically recognise responders to a humanitarian crisis.
The medals were presented to the three Frimley Health employees at a recent meeting of the Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust board.