A former British diplomat who helped fight the deadly Ebola virus during the outbreak in West Africa has been awarded an OBE – Order of the British Empire.
The Royal Family on Friday confirmed that the United Kingdom’s former Deputy High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Kate Airey, had been conferred with the honour by the Prince of Wales ‘‘for her Ebola response work.’‘
At a time when nationals were being evacuated from Sierra Leone, Kate chose to stay behind to help fight the deadly disease which claimed thousands of lives across West Africa, specifically in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
She helped families to bury their babies, she reportedly washed her hands 400 times each day and prayed for deliverance. Ironically her husband and daughter had been flown out whiles she led a team of Foreign Office workers to confront the Ebola scourge.
At the time, Kate said the situation at hand offered an opportunity to make a positive mark on the affected people directly hence her decision to stay behind and not worry about the consequences of having to do so.
‘‘At the point the disease was starting to spiral out of control in Africa. We were starting to see dead bodies in the street. You just wouldn’t be human if you don’t want to help,’‘ she is quoted to have said.
She was posted to the Sierra Leonean capital only two weeks in April 2014 when the disease struck having started in neighbouring Liberia and Guinea.
When in September the same year 850 troops were sent to help with the response efforts, she also helped set up a response headquarters and treatment centers plus a national burial team that helped bury deceased persons safely and with dignity.
Her work has been previously acknowledged principal amongst them was an invitation to the residence of the UK Prime Minister (Number 10 Downing Street) where the then PM David Cameron presented her with a special medal.