COVID heroes who dedicated their services to help others across the county throughout the pandemic have been recognised with a prestigious award.

The High Sherriff of Oxford, Imam Monawar Hussain, formally recognised 21 individuals and organisations who brought ‘hope and heroism’ through the Covid-19 outbreak.

They include a school, medical practice, community leaders, charity organisers, community and food bank volunteers, a scientist and health workers.

Mr Hussain, who became the High Sherriff in April 2021, said: “When I took office in April, I announced that my year would be spent celebrating and recognising, acts of altruistic kindness and generosity, by individuals, voluntary groups, and businesses/organisations, drawn from all walks of life, from across Oxfordshire during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was therefore delighted to receive, for this first round, 60 nominations - all in their own right making contributions to Oxfordshire’s communities that were both humbling and hugely inspiring to read.

Oxford Mail:

Hasnath Miah

“Our county has so many people and organisations dedicated to the selfless service of others and this has been made especially clear through this difficult and demanding period.”

The award winners are:

Over 60 people were nominated for the High Sheriff’s award, with 21 getting an award on September 22.

  • Fitzwaryn School, Wantage
  • Sue Holden, Barton Community Association
  • Stacey Chorley from Witney
  • Ray Collins, founder of the Ray Collins Charitable Trust, Wantage
  • Be Free Young Carers, Didcot
  • Trevor Williams, youth worker at Rose Hill Junior Youth Club, Oxford
  • Mikayla Beames, Childrey teenage cancer survivor and founder of charity Team Mikayla which helps to grant the wishes of children fighting cancer
  • Hasnath Miah, owner of Indian Dream restaurant in Didcot, who gave away free meals to NHS staff and other key workers
  • The Volunteers of the OX4 Free Food Crew Project in Cowley
  • Helen Cowan, Iffley 
  • The Cholsey Volunteer Group
  • The Archway Foundation, Oxford, dedicated to the alleviation of loneliness 
  • Natasha Barnes, customer services centre delivery manager, Cherwell District Council
  • Hadi Nuri, founder and executive director of SYRCOX – Syrian Community Oxfordshire
  • Mike Fischer of Systems Biology Laboratory UK CIC, Abingdon
  • Dr Hosnieh Djafari-Marbini, NHS anaesthetist and Oxford city councillor,
  • Karen Forman of Blewbury Good Neighbours group
  • Windrush Medical Practice, Witney 
  • Watlington Volunteer Drivers
  • Tom Ligertwood, Nuneham Courtenay
  • Tehmeena Ajmal, Covid Operations Director, and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust

The award ceremony will take place on September 22.

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Dr Hosnieh Djafari-Marbini 

Mr Hussain added: “The 21 final nominees, in no way diminishes the contribution of those who were not successful, on this occasion.

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“To all, we owe our thanks and gratitude, for all that they have done and continue to do, to serve their communities in Oxfordshire.”

Natasha Barnes, who works as the Customer Service manager at Cherwell District Council, is one of the award winners.

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Throughout the pandemic, Ms Barnes and her team helped conduct the local contact tracing service.

She said: “I was completely honoured and humbled by the award.

“We just crack on and do our job and when Covid hit it was very difficult for everyone, and local authorities took on a lot of extra responsibility surrounding the pandemic.

“I am very honoured to be nominated but it would be unfair not to say that this has been a team effort.

“There have been lots of very long days.”

Ray Collins – the man behind the Ray Collins Charitable Trust and the Wantage Coronavirus Support Group, which helped vulnerable people get food and medicine throughout the pandemic, is also one of the winners.

He said: “I work with a brilliant team and over 140 volunteers and we have put in a big shift throughout the pandemic.

“The recognition is really nice, but I accept it as a team award, rather than just for myself.

"It's nice to know people appreciate the work.”

The list of final nominees was selected by the High Sheriff, the Under Sheriff of Oxfordshire, Michael Payne, the Chief executive of the Oxfordshire Community Foundation, Adrian Sell, and BBC Radio Oxford presenter, Sophie Law.

Award winner Tehmeena Ajmal, Director of COVID Operations at Oxford Health, said: “I was so delighted to receive the letter telling us that our vaccination team has been given the High Sheriff’s Award.

"A recognition like this means so much to everyone who has been working so hard for so long on the vaccination programme.

"The High Sheriff has seen our work in action numerous times and is an incredible supporter of all our staff and volunteers working at the Kassam stadium and the other locations where we have teams giving jabs.”