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Crown Agents’ Overseas Territories COVID-19 response: MBE award for David Quinn, Director of the Crown Agents’ Crisis Response and Recovery Unit /

We are proud to share that our colleague David Quinn will be awarded an MBE for supporting the FCDO’s COVID-19 response for the British Overseas Territories.

This included sourcing and transporting vital PPE, lab equipment and vaccines to some of the most remote areas of the globe.

How do you feel about receiving this honour?

I was in shock!

Having said that, being involved in this project has been fantastic, especially because its results were so tangible: In many cases, we could see the COVID-19 levels fall rapidly in the communities we shipped the vaccines to.

As one of the first logistic companies which moved the vaccine globally, we were serving communities that would otherwise be at risk of being left behind, such as Tristan Da Cunha- the most remote inhabited island in the world.

Whilst I am accepting this honour, I need to stress that I have obviously not done this alone- I had an excellent team supporting this project all the way, including my colleague Jane Phelan, who also got awarded an MBE last year.

What was the biggest challenge you faced whilst working on the project?

Setting up brand new supply chains for COVID-19 vaccines in a world of border closures and restricted travel corridors was challenging. Our contingency planning had to be superb, since the unknown was always lurking around the corner, and we had to uphold ultra-cold chains in some extreme environments, which included freight exposed to snow storms in the UK and tropical storms in Caribbean in one and the same day.

Yet it was only one aspect of the project: At the very beginning, we focussed on diagnosis, treatment and prevention of COVID-19. We worked in very difficult markets where it was very hard to secure supplies, and there were trade barriers imposed internationally, despite huge demand for medical equipment.

The pressure to succeed was rather high- you have to imagine, being an inhabitant of a remote island in times of a global pandemic and restricted trade and travel routes must have been absolutely terrifying. So the territories we served were increasingly leaning on us for support- with each of them having their own priorities and concerns.

So what is next?

Whilst David admits he will frame his MBE, he wants to do it in a discreet spot in his house.

Should he? We think it should be front and centre, wherever it appears most prominently!

Congratulations, David and team!