Filipina senior nurse May Parsons is set to receive the highest award for gallantry on behalf of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), the NHS announced on Saturday, July 9 (Manila time).
Parsons is the Filipina nurse who administered the world’s first COVID 19 vaccine outside clinical trials on Dec. 8, 2020.
She is a nursing graduate from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila who worked at the UST Hospital before flying to the UK in 2003.
Parsons will receive the George Cross together with NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard, on behalf of the 1.5 million NHS staff working in England.
“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,” she added.
The George Cross is the highest award bestowed by the British government to citizens who did acts of gallantry without any presence of an enemy. It has an equal stature to the Victoria Cross.
The award is granted in recognition of “acts of the greatest heroism or of the most courage in circumstances of extreme danger.”
Parsons will be awarded by UK’s Queen Elizabeth II accompanied by Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, at the Windsor Castle on July 12.
In a Facebook post, Parsons said she is deeply honored to represent dedicated people within NHC.
“I’m deeply honored to represent the wonderful and dedicated people within the NHS and Social Care who has 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.
“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 fulfil our pledge to care and to serve our communities,” she added.
This will not be the first time the British government will award a Filipina staff of the NHS.
In 2018, another Filipino nurse named Joy Ongcachuy received the Order of the British Empire award for leading her team in caring for the victims of the 2017 London Bridge terrorist attacks. The OBE is conferred on those who have “made achievements in public life.”