A SCOUT volunteer who mobilised a team to deliver prescriptions during the pandemic has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New Year Honours list.

Sarah Townsend was recognised for her ‘services to the community in Witney, particularly during Covid-19’.

Mrs Townsend, while in her role as dispensary manager at Windrush Medical Practice, came up with the idea at the beginning of the pandemic to use the Scouts to deliver prescriptions to the vulnerable.

It blossomed into 65 volunteers working with all eight pharmacies in Witney.

By the time the scheme finished at the end of July 2020, the team of volunteers had delivered nearly 7,500 prescriptions to those in need.

Read again: Scouts finish Witney prescription scheme after 7,500 deliveries in lockdown

On receiving her medal, Mrs Townsend said: “It was a complete surprise and I feel very humbled.

“Before the first lockdown, we could see people queuing for up to two hours outside our nearest pharmacy.

“I’m so glad that I was so quick to realise that there was so many adults in the Scouts who could help.

“This truly was a huge team effort, the sheer number of people who volunteered their time for free shows the true sense of scouting in every way.

“Each and every one of those who helped deserves recognition.

“It’s been difficult not telling anyone, especially as it’s been such a team effort.

“It felt a bit wrong for me to be singled out, as although it was me who put the wheels in motion, I want this to be for everybody.”

Witney Gazette: West Oxfordshire Scout volunteer Sarah Townsend has been awarded the British Empire Medal. Picture supplied by the ScoutsWest Oxfordshire Scout volunteer Sarah Townsend has been awarded the British Empire Medal. Picture supplied by the Scouts

The issue of how to deliver prescriptions at the beginning of the pandemic was first raised by Dr Steve Bright at Windrush Medical Practice.

He was concerned about the queues of elderly patients collecting prescriptions and asked Mrs Townsend, in her position as deputy district commissioner for the Scouts in West Oxfordshire, for any help she could provide.

Joff Greer, Scout leader for North Leigh, was instrumental in coordinating the efforts alongside Mrs Townsend.

He said: “People were over the moon. It took away a lot of worry and stress, particularly for the older generations.

“It was great for us too – we’re all doers and it was good to be busy.”

Witney Gazette: Volunteers outside the Windrush Medical PracticeVolunteers outside the Windrush Medical Practice

Television adventurer Bear Grylls, who is also Chief Scout, said: “The past two years have been really tough for everyone.

“But in dark times, some people really do shine.

“Sarah and the group of Scout volunteers she mobilised leapt into action delivering prescriptions to vulnerable and shielding patients.

“They really stepped up to the challenge and helped those who needed help in the community.

“I am so proud of Sarah and the team for rising to the challenge when their nation needed them.”