New Year’s Honours awards for Thames Valley Rotarians

Congratulations to Lisa Hunter of Maidenhead Bridge Rotary and Sarah Gardner of Elthorne-Hillingdon Rotary, both recognised in the New Year’s Honours List this week.

Karen Eveleigh, 5th January 2022

Congratulations to Lisa Hunter of Maidenhead Bridge Rotary and Sarah Gardner of Elthorne-Hillingdon Rotary, both recognised in the New Year’s Honours List this week.

Both Lisa and Sarah were awarded a British Empire Medal for service to their local communities during the covid pandemic.


Lisa and other Maidenhead Rotarians set up support for local families right from the start of the first lock down, delivering food parcels, collecting prescriptions and dog walking. Non-Rotarians and Rotarians made up a team of 120 volunteers supporting 150 residents.

As Lisa explained:

“It was a massive surprise to be awarded a BEM, as like all Rotarians, you do what you do for the community because it needs doing not to be recognised.

“When I set up the projects, I admit that I didn't sleep a lot, particularly in the first few months, but that didn’t matter as it was important to get volunteers together to support those in isolation and also because it was the difference between children being able to eat or not.

“It’s been wonderful to hear the difference the project made to the lives of the families and volunteers we brought together.  I remember getting an email from one parent at six o'clock in the morning after we included a flapjack recipe in their food parcel and the ingredients needed to make it.  It simply said “thank you so much for the additional treats in this week's food parcel. My child was so excited I've been up since five making flapjacks but I don't mind because it was just a lovely treat and brought a smile to the whole family.”

“The one thing I will continue to take out of it is that the community came together to make a difference and I hope that is something that continues long into the future.

“This award is as much in recognition of what all the volunteers and Rotary in Maidenhead did, as well as myself.”

Sarah set up Serving Our Superheroes in response to the pandemic. The first project was the provision of laundry bags for healthcare workers to prevent cross-contamination of covid. It then evolved to provide washbags filled with toiletries for NHS staff.   More recently, the charity has helped Afghan refugees with washbags, books to help with learning English, and children’s toys.  

Another local initiative that Sarah established is CHEF, a Community Health Education and Food Project aiming to end food poverty in Hillingdon.  Classes have started with asylum seekers, to help them integrate into the community. The sessions are designed to teach people about healthy eating and promote health, they also teach people to cook on a budget.

Read more about the Maidenhead and Hillingdon projects

From Albert Square to Rotary in Maidenhead for EastEnders’ star Ross Kemp

Lisa Hunter - Service Above Self Award

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