The Filipina nurse who first administered the COVID-19 vaccine has received the George Cross from Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, during an audience at Windsor Castle on Tuesday (July 12).
May Parsons, along with National Health Service (NHS) CEO Amanda Pritchard, received the highest award for gallantry on behalf of the more than 1.5 million NHS staff in England.
The Queen had a lighthearted moment with her quests as she cracked a joke with NHS leaders and healthcare while hosting the ceremony.
She joked with Parsons about her historic first, saying, "You're still alive?"
"We're terribly, terribly proud of the vaccination roll-out, it was so successful," Parson told the Queen, laughing.
"Yes it was amazing. And what are you going to do with it [medal]?" Her Majesty replied.
“All of the staff in hospitals and our communities went above and beyond during the pandemic to look after patients despite the risks the virus posed to themselves, across health and care, staff sacrificed so much to look after those in need,” Parsons said in a statement. “The George Cross is a fitting tribute to them all.”
Personally, Parsons said that she’s deeply honored to represent dedicated health workers and staff in the NHS.
“I’m deeply honored to represent the wonderful and dedicated people within the NHS and Social Care who have shown up everyday to care for our people and communities despite the challenges and sacrifices we’ve had to take posed by the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Parsons said in a Facebook post.
The George Cross, first introduced in 1940, is the highest award given by the British government to citizens who have shown great acts of gallantry outside the context of warfare, whose equal award for bravery in the military is the Victorian Cross.
The award is given in recognition of “acts of the greatest heroism or the most courage in circumstances of extreme danger.”
In receiving the award, Parsons said that it is also a tribute to health workers who succumbed to the virus, for their bravery in the midst of the greatest threat in the health and healthcare system of everyone around the world.
“We remember our fallen colleagues who has given the ultimate sacrifice and I cannot be more proud of our achievements as a whole. The George Cross is a fitting tribute as we continue to fulfill our pledge to care and to serve our communities,” Parsons added.
Parsons administered the world’s first COVID-19 vaccination to 90-year-old grandmother Margaret Keenan.
She said that she was “very proud to say to everyone I am a Filipino-Briton making history”.
“I am really glad to be telling all the Filipinos, in this country and everywhere in the world, we can make a difference and we do offer positive contributions to humanity, as it were. I think it is a historical event for Filipinos all across the globe for making sure that we are proud of what we have achieved and what we contribute to everyone and the care we give”, Parson told Good Morning Britain.
Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments in politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. The views expressed are his own.
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