Wetherby man given New Year Honours MBE following work turning hotels into Covid-19 field hospitals
A Wetherby man has expressed his shock and gratitude after being honoured with an MBE in the Queen's New Year Honours list for services to the NHS.
Andrew Denton, 47, is to receive the award for charitable services to the NHS by turning hotels into field hospitals and providing shelter for homeless people during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Head of Hotels for Best Western Hotels, in March 2020, Andrew persuaded the company, which owns 300 hotels, to offer Covid-19 support to the NHS by turning the hotels into field hospitals.
16,000 rooms were offered to the NHS with a further 80 hotels kept open to help NHS staff, key workers and the vulnerable.
Speaking to the YEP Andrew explained how he received the news.
"It's just one of those things that you never expect to happen." he said "You're coming in from work and there is like a yellowy letter on the sideboard and as you open it, it says cabinet office on it, you start reading the words. It's this incredible, emotional, magical moment."
Turning hotels into field hospitals enabled the NHS to help take less urgent patients away from critical care beds and emergency wards and the initiative led to hotels becoming hospitals for the first time since the war.
"It still hasn't sunk in and I don't think it will for a while." Andrew explained "I'm sure my friends will keep me very much firmly on the ground though and just take the micky out of me. I did genuinely think it was one of them winding me up."
Andrew was the first to start conversations with local authorities and police forces to provide hotels as places of refuge for vulnerable people, such as domestic abuse victims, homeless and rough sleepers in Best Western hotels.
He also created a national letter writing campaign in March 2020 to support people struggling in lockdown with isolation, loneliness and mental health. That campaign has resulted in the writing of over 2,000 letters to people from the age of 5 to 103 to keep spirits up.
His efforts, initiative and innovation turned a hotel business into a vital support function for the NHS, police and local authorities.
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