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New Year Honours for crises staff at the Foreign Office

The Foreign Office is delighted that 19 of our staff have received recognition in the New Year Honours List for their exceptional contributions in delivering the UK response to crises overseas this year.

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This year has been one of the busiest and most demanding the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has ever faced. The Arab Spring, the disasters in Japan and the earthquake in New Zealand have led to evacuations, many consular cases and staff working around the clock to help protect hundreds of thousands of Britons overseas.

Commending their work, the Foreign Secretary said:

“I am delighted to see the contribution of exceptional FCO staff recognised in the New Year Honours List. They have each made an outstanding contribution to our country this year, often in difficult, dangerous and distressing circumstances. They have supported British nationals and protected British interests with distinction. I am extremely grateful to them, and congratulate them on their awards”.

Honours have been awarded to FCO staff based in London and overseas in recognition of exceptional crisis-related work in delivering the UK response to the Arab Spring, particularly in helping British nationals in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Bahrain and Malta. Awards have also been given to a range of FCO staff in key roles during the Japan crisis from HM Ambassador in Tokyo to consular staff and to local Embassy drivers for outstanding front-line work.

The Diplomatic Service and Overseas (DS&O) List recognises exceptional meritorious service performed overseas by British citizens or those from a Commonwealth country where HM The Queen is Head of State or service with a substantial international component performed in the UK. The DS&O 2012 New Year Honours List is made up of a total of 85 awards for both officials and non-officials.

Some of the award recipients are:

Emma Wade, former Head of Crisis Group, FCO

Emma Wade receives an OBE for her outstanding work in leading the UK’s consular crisis response in London to the unprecedented series of crises around the world. Millions of British nationals were affected by these events and tens of thousands benefited from the operations that Emma led. From the Haiti and Chile earthquakes and the Madeira floods to the Iceland volcanic ash cloud disruption in 2010, Emma was at the heart of co-ordinating FCO crisis leaders and operations around the world to help British nationals. With 2011 being the most challenging period of consular crisis management in modern history, Emma worked extremely long hours for months on end to respond to a constant stream of live crises. Emma and her team worked to evacuate thousands of British nationals from Egypt and over 700 British nationals from locations around Libya. With these operations in full flight, Emma and her team of 16 were stretched even further when responding to the earthquake in New Zealand, the unrest in Ivory Coast and then the disastrous events in Japan. On top of all this, Emma developed and delivered an extensive range of bespoke crisis training and crisis exercises to ensure Embassy staff around the world are prepared to respond to any eventuality.

Emma Wade said: “I am absolutely thrilled and delighted to receive this honour for my crisis work. My time in Crisis Group in the FCO was very hard work and also extremely rewarding. I would like to pay tribute to the dedication and skills of my team, who were brilliant throughout the very difficult days of 2011 when we were juggling several crises at once.”

Matthew Lewis, lately Consular Directorate, First Secretary, FCO

Matthew Lewis receives an OBE for his outstanding contribution to the FCO’s consular crisis response in the Middle East and North Africa helping British nationals overseas. He led the first Rapid Deployment Teams into Egypt and Libya and subsequently operated from Malta. In Egypt, Matthew played a leading role in co-ordinating the departure of hundreds of British nationals onto charter flights out of Cairo airport which had run out of food and water. In Libya, Matthew led evacuations by air from Tripoli and by sea from Benghazi to Malta. As well as working on the evacuation, Matthew also ensured that British nationals were given assistance and advice in the midst of an extremely fluid and volatile situation.

Matthew Lewis said: “I’m shocked and delighted to receive an OBE. It was a great privilege to work with fantastic colleagues in difficult and occasionally dangerous circumstances through the early days of the Arab Spring. I think we were all hugely motivated and inspired by the events unfolding around us. Those weeks have been the highlight of my career”.

Dominic Asquith, lately HM Ambassador, Cairo, Egypt

Dominic receives a KCMG (Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and St George) for leading the British Embassy in Cairo through the numerous challenges of the uprising in Egypt. He provided outstanding leadership to his team through long days and nights so that they could ensure that British nationals were able to leave the country safely. He is also commended for looking after his staff and their dependants, as well as providing astute analysis all the way through the crisis to inform the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and media of developments. He has been noted for his intelligent response to the uprising and his predictions and diplomatic work before the uprising began. After the immediate crisis, he continued to lead the UK’s response to the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people.

Carole Ann Johnson, Deputy High Commissioner, Valletta, Malta

Carole Johnson receives an MBE for her leading role in the complex consular emergency evacuation of British and other nationals from Libya. She worked all hours to ensure that British and third country evacuees arriving in Malta on flights and ships were met and looked after until their onward departures. This was a huge operation involving liaison with port/airport authorities, other diplomatic missions, airlines, transport and hotel operators. Over 500 British nationals were evacuated through Malta, and more than 1000 people in total were evacuated on British operations.

Reflecting on the crisis Carole Johnson said: “There are many stand out moments from the evacuations, but the first arrival of HMS Cumberland in the Grand Harbour at 4am after a gruelling 36-hour crossing will be etched forever in my memory. The feeling of Malta as a safe haven was overwhelming.”

David Warren, HM Ambassador, Tokyo, Japan

David Warren receives a KCMG for displaying exceptional qualities of leadership and empathy through the immediate aftermath of the massive earthquake in northern Japan which caused a tsunami and a nuclear disaster at Fukushima, during which the British Embassy remained open and fully operational. In the face of these events, he provided careful leadership in the face of considerable uncertainty. He deployed to the earthquake area with the first consular team 40 hours after the earthquake and quickly established himself as the public face of the British response, combining calm authority with quick action to help those who most needed it, enabling the consular teams to help over 80 people leave the worst affected areas. He was a source of reassurance to all the British residents in Japan and thousands of others in the UK who were concerned about their relatives and friends, liaising with senior members of the Japanese government to get as much information as possible and to get essential assistance to the Japanese.

David Warren said: “Everyone in Britain was horrified by the terrible disasters that affected Japan in March, and humbled by the courage and resilience that the Japanese people showed in their response. I had the great privilege of being part of a magnificent team, drawn from our diplomatic posts in Japan and from around the world, and including many people in the FCO and other organisations in the UK. I am delighted that the team’s work is being recognised in this Honours list.”

Tsuneo Ogata, Isamu Suzuki, Jun Yanagiya, Drivers, British Embassy, Tokyo, Japan

Mr Ogata, Mr Suzuki and Mr Yanagiya are Japanese nationals. Each receives an honorary MBE for exceptional service in the aftermath of the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis. Driving to the affected areas in hazardous conditions, they worked long hours in distressing circumstances. In addition they advised on fuel supplies, road conditions and routes, and worked with Japanese relief agencies to ensure that emergency consular staff were able to access the affected areas quickly, assess the situation and help British nationals. They carried out this work despite the risks of further earthquakes, tsunamis and radiation leaks. The drivers displayed the highest standards throughout the crisis and worked together to provide an outstanding service at an extremely difficult time for themselves and their families. This commitment and sense of duty has continued with various fundraising efforts undertaken at their own initiative.

Updates to this page

Published 31 December 2011