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CEO Fergus Drake awarded OBE for mobilising emergency health aid for Ukraine /

In the New Year’s Honours list, our CEO Fergus Drake has been awarded an OBE for his role in leading a mobilisation that has shipped over 33 million Covid-19 vaccines for the entire population of Ukraine, provided medicines or medical equipment to 88 neonatal centres and maternity hospitals across the country and delivered more than 650,000 items of emergency medicines and equipment into the country’s devastated health system.

Crown Agents has embedded staff into Ukraine’s Ministry of Health to help drive forward urgent assistance, following from its long-term partnership with the Ministry over the last 25 years. Since the Russian invasion of 24 February 2022, Crown Agents has additionally formed dedicated teams to raise funding and source and send urgently needed health equipment requested by the Ministry.

Working with the public and private sectors, foundations and philanthropists, Crown Agents has sourced and shipped the following emergency support to hospitals and health workers:

  • over 350,000 medicines
  • 97,000 trauma kits
  • 153,000 medical devices
  • 50,000 food kits
  • 36,000 hygiene kits
  • 400 oxygen concentrators
  • 192 generators
  • 91 premature baby incubators

Fergus Drake said:

“I am deeply humbled and grateful to be recognised in the 2023 New Year’s Honours List.  I would like to dedicate this award to the incredibly brave and inspirational Crown Agents team in Ukraine, London and around the world. They have worked tirelessly since the outbreak of the war, often without electricity and running water, to bring life-saving drugs and medical equipment into the country.  I would also like to thank our partners the Ukraine Ministry of Health, the Ukraine FCDO Team and all our donors for their generous support”.

Organisations that have supported Crown Agents’ mobilisation include the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), The Ministry of Defence, Pfizer, GSK, UBS, Citi Commercial Bank, AstraZeneca, Permira Foundation, Help Age International, Christian Aid, Jersey Overseas Aid, Save the Children, Russell Reynolds, Direct Relief and many individual foundations and philanthropists.

Fergus Drake has visited Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine and the region, regularly since the war began, meeting with senior representatives of the Ministry of Health and visiting hospitals to assess levels of need and the country’s emergency medical requirements.

Fergus Drake appearing on the BBC talking about the work of Crown Agents from Kyiv, Ukraine

Crown Agents had already played a critical role in ensuring the Ukrainian population was vaccinated against Covid-19, sourcing and shipping Covid-19 vaccines for the entire population prior to the war. Its long-term partnership had also seen it reform the country’s drug procurement processes saving the Ministry of Health over £55m and work intensively in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. In moving into an emergency mobilisation on the start of the war, it built upon its existing infrastructure in Ukraine and redirected resources into securing assessments, information, action lists, and new and extra rounds of fundraising to support emergency health needs.

David Richardson, Interim Crown Agents Board Chair said:

“We are thrilled that Fergus has received this award which recognises his leadership of the Crown Agents’ emergency Ukraine response.  The agility of Fergus and his team in supporting the Ukrainian Government and people in the face of Russian aggression is built on the long-term partnering approach that we adopt in all our work around the world. Underpinned by the Crown Agents’ values of courage and integrity, we will continue to work to make a real difference to people facing humanitarian crises.”

Fergus Drake with Tetiana Korotchenko (Crown Agents Country Director Ukraine) with one of 97,000 Medical Trauma Kits transported to Ukraine