British citizens and officials receive honours for response to war in Ukraine

British diplomats, doctors and a grassroots fundraiser have been recognised in the New Year Honours list for their response to the war in Ukraine.

Melinda Simmons, the ambassador in Kyiv, and Deborah Bronnert, ambassador in Moscow, have received damehoods for their services to foreign policy, including work supporting Ukraine and countering Russia’s aggression since the invasion in February.

Ms Simmons called it a “huge honour”, adding: “I am proud of everyone I have worked with and everything we have done to support Ukrainians’ unwavering determination to live free, especially over the last year.

“We will continue to work together to support them just as we continue to be inspired by their incredible resilience.”

Ms Bronnert said she was “hugely privileged” to receive the recognition, adding that the year had been “bleak” and “scarred by the awful invasion of Ukraine and its terrible consequences”.

“Like all of us, I have been inspired by the bravery of the Ukrainians and my colleagues in Ukraine,” she said.

“I also want to pay tribute to colleagues past and present in Russia and indeed the many, many Russians who want and hope for a better future.”

Three other diplomats at the Kyiv and Moscow embassies – Kate Davenport, Sarah Docherty and Nicolas Harrocks – have also been made OBEs for services to British foreign policy.

Russian invasion of Ukraine
Kate Davenport and Melinda Simmons outside the British embassy in Kyiv (Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office/PA)

Rachel Kessler, an independent consultant working with the Foreign Office on sending humanitarian aid to Ukraine, has also been made an OBE, as has Fergus Drake, chief executive for the non-profit Crown Agents, for his work helping to deliver medical supplies and equipment to the country.

Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Kent, a trauma and orthopaedic surgeon, and Dr Paul Ransom, an emergency medicine consultant – who both worked on the ground in Ukraine – were also made OBEs.

Meanwhile, a nanny from Cambridgeshire has been awarded a British Empire Medal after she gathered six containers full of essentials from her local community for Ukrainian refugees in Poland and raised £190,000 for refugees in Moldova.

Louenna Hood, told the PA news agency she was “completely stunned” and “absolutely over the moon”, calling the award “a massive, massive honour”.

She also thanked the people who helped her along the way, saying: “I started the campaign but I would never have been able to do it without the community behind me.

“Everybody that I asked a favour of, every person said yes. So it’s for everybody, really.”

Louenna Hood (Yui Mok/PA)
Louenna Hood (Yui Mok/PA)

Ms Hood, who has been a nanny for 20 years, said that a few days after the war broke out in Ukraine, she spoke to a friend in Poland who told her Ukrainian families were arriving in their city with nothing.

“It really just broke my heart to think that people were being told to leave their homes,” she said.

“The thought of having to pack up your home with your children with simply what you can carry is inconceivable.

“So offering some aid and comfort in those first few weeks was really important.”

Ms Hood said she put a post on Instagram on a Sunday evening asking friends and followers to donate essentials, and by the next day her home was full.

“It completely snowballed,” she said, adding that she had no prior experience of working with donations and fundraising.

“I initially thought about sending a few boxes, that turned into a small van, that turned into a container, and then we ended up with six containers.

“So I had absolutely no experience whatsoever, and it was all down to my friends, family, the community, who just all got completely behind it which is why it took off the way it did.”

Ms Hood said she also raised £190,000 from people donating money, and travelled to the border in Moldova to make sure the money went “directly where it was needed”.

“We have still got really amazing contacts for when we went over to Moldova and especially with the Ukrainian embassy, so they keep in touch and if they need specific help we will be there to help them,” she said.

Ms Hood said the initial momentum for donations has “dwindled” over the months, saying: “My message is: just because you don’t necessarily see it on the news every day it’s not that it’s still not happening.

“So it’s very much still happening at this moment.”