Red Cross volunteer awarded for pandemic service

A RED Cross volunteer has been awarded a special edition commemorative coin for his role as a driver during the coronavirus lockdown.

His outstanding contributions to volunteering as the charity celebrates its 150th birthday on 4 August 2020.

Frank Cavanagh has been awarded a commemorative coin for his service during the coronavirus lockdown

Frank Cavanagh, from Byfleet, drove hundreds of miles doing emergency home deliveries of wheelchairs, walking frames and mobility equipment.

Frank was one of 150 volunteers out of 35,000 to receive one of the coins issued to mark Red Cross’s 150th anniversary this week.

Frank, a retired luxury watch buyer, had been driving two days a week, for the Woking Mobility Aids Service, but switch to fulltime work when the coronavirus crisis threatened to temporarily close the provision, due to a lack of volunteers.

He said: “I’d been volunteering for about six months when COVID happened. A lot of our drivers and volunteers are 70 plus, and so they couldn’t help because they were shielding. So I volunteered to do five days, or as much as I was needed.

“Sometimes we were collecting from homes where someone had lost a family member or someone close to them due to Covid, so it really pulled at the heartstrings.

“I wasn’t naive enough to think I wasn’t putting myself at risk, but someone had to do it. When big emergencies like this happen someone’s got to step up.”

As the COVID-19 crisis deepened, pressure mounted on neighbouring services. Frank stepped in to assist them, sometimes making 100-mile round trips to reach vulnerable people in other parts of Surrey as well as Hampshire and West Sussex.

“I was covering a huge area up to Crawley and as far as Andover, Basingstoke, Farnham, Fleet and Guilford. I must have easily done 5,000 or 6,000 thousand miles during the crisis.

The £5 coins, which are not for circulation, have been donated by the Royal Mint to British Red Cross volunteers and staff nominated by their colleagues for going above and beyond during the COVID-19 emergency.

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