Christians recognised for Covid efforts in New Year Honours list

Rev Dr Susan Salt returned to the NHS at the height of the pandemic.(Photo: Blackburn Diocese)

The New Year Honours list for 2022 includes a number of Christians being recognised for their efforts in response to the pandemic.

They include Lord Frank Field of Birkenhead, a member of the Church of England's General Synod, who has been made a Companion of Honour in recognition of his public and political service.

Others to have been recognised specifically for their services to the community during Covid-19 include Rev Jonathan Swales, founder of Lighthouse, who received an MBE.

Lighthouse is a fresh expression of church in Leeds that aims to be a community "for those battered and bruised by the storms of life". In addition to church services, it provides hot meals and offers day centres and wellbeing workshops to support the local community.

The British Empire Medal was conferred upon Lancashire doctor and priest the Rev Dr Susan Salt after she returned to the NHS in response to a plea for more workers during the pandemic.

Dr Salt, who is a curate of the Fellside Team Ministry in rural Lancashire, served for nearly three months in the chaplaincy at Blackpool Teaching Hospital, focusing much of her time on supporting the intensive care unit and ministering to both patients and fellow clinicians.

"When the email came from the General Medical Council asking for former doctors to go back in and help, I thought and prayed long and hard. There was a nagging voice saying 'you could and you should," said Dr Salt, who lived in hospital accommodation in order to protect her family.

"I felt I could not leave my former colleagues and the brave staff of the hospital struggling to cope with what was a dreadful and challenging situation."

Dr Salt spent more than 30 years as a physician before becoming a priest last year and continues to be active in supporting the Blackburn Diocese Coronavirus Task Group, chaired by the Bishop of Burnley, Philip North.

The Bishop of Blackburn, Julian Henderson, said her BEM was "hugely well deserved".

"There are some commonalities in the roles of a parish priest and a medic as they both provide opportunities to care for people no matter what their circumstances," he said.

"Susan's background in palliative care also gave her unique insights and abilities that were clearly invaluable to the Blackpool Teaching Hospital and it is particularly noteworthy that she was able to set up the bereavement support service which was much needed. I can think of no better person to have done this."

Rev Wayne Davies of Ludlow, Shropshire, Rev Keith Osmond-Smith in Telford, and Rev Donald Smith of Frinton-on-Sea in Essex were also recognised for their services to the community in response to Covid.

Salvation Army Secretary for Communications, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr Dean Pallant received an MBE in acknowledgment of the charity's work during the pandemic, while Julius Wolff-Ingham, The Salvation Army's head of marketing and fundraising was awarded an OBE for services to charitable fundraising.

Dr Pallant said: "I'm delighted to accept this honour in recognition of The Salvation Army's work across the United Kingdom throughout the pandemic.

"The Salvation Army family mobilised extremely quickly when lockdown started, and we've continued to adapt brilliantly. Our 650 churches continue to respond to a huge range of needs in communities in all corners of the UK.

"Our staff have done amazing work to keep open our residential centres for people experiencing homelessness, for older people and for survivors of modern slavery. We've also ramped up our services to help people find work, training and deal with debt."

Dr Russell Rook, founding partner of the Good Faith Partnership, was awarded an OBE for services to social action. The Good Faith Partnership has been a key partner in the Your Neighbour initiative supporting churches in responding to Covid-19 in their communities.

Rev James Cruddas, a Methodist minister and Deputy Director of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, received an OBE for public service.

Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald received an MBE for services to Interfaith and Interchurch Partnerships. He is a Vatican expert on Islam and was President of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue from 2002 to 2006. He is now based at the Church of St Vincent de Paul in Liverpool.

Northern Irish Paralympic gold medallist Bethany Firth received an OBE for services to swimming.

The committed Christian, who received an MBE in 2017, said that the OBE "was the cherry going on top of the cake".

Responding to news of her OBE she said, "I thank God everyday for the amazing people he has put in my life."