1698. Rachel Sherwood
Rachel Sherwood, from Oxfordshire, launched the ‘Operation Recuperation’ initiative in March 2020, gifting holidays and short breaks to over 1,000 NHS workers.
Rachel wanted to make use of her contacts in the industry to provide a way of thanking healthcare workers for their response to the pandemic and to give them a much needed boost to their wellbeing. Donors include luxury hotel companies such as Belmond, Karma Group, Soho House and Hilton alongside cottage rental companies and countless generous individuals. Rachel has also offered free use of her own holiday home in Thailand.
In a personal letter to Rachel, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I was inspired to learn of ‘Operation Recuperation’ and how you brought together businesses and individuals during lockdown to donate well-deserved breaks to NHS staff.
“It is completely right that we pay tribute to the valiant efforts of our NHS workers during the pandemic. It is also important to remember the extraordinary lengths our healthcare workers go to every single day of the year. So I was particularly delighted to learn of your plans to keep ‘Operation Recuperation’ going into the future, continuing to thank our wonderful NHS workers as they continue to look after us.”
In response to receiving her award, Rachel said:
“Thank you so much for this recognition – it’s very much appreciated and I’m still a little shell-shocked!
“I’d like to acknowledge the contribution of my niece Tatiana Sherwood who gave a lot of her time when she was furloughed from the British Heart Foundation and MacMillan last year. She was a godsend and stepped well out of her comfort zone to help.
“I’ve also had the support of a handful of people who stepped up when I was overwhelmed and made ‘good news’ calls to the NHS staff, spread the word on social media and took on elements of the back office admin. Some of them stayed for a few months, others for a few days but their support was invaluable.
“However, none of this would have happened without the generosity of our donors and they’ve been simply amazing. It’s the reactions to their gifts from emotionally and physically exhausted NHS staff that literally keeps me going.”