BEM awarded to Chichester manager for single-handedly caring for elderly residents during the pandemic

A manager of an assisted living facility has received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for single-handedly caring for residents during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 1:44 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 1:46 pm

Jackie Woollett, senior house manager at Oakshade house in Market Avenue, was presented with the BEM in a ceremony on Wednesday (November 17) after being recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2020.

She was awarded the BEM for 'her selfless dedication at work during the pandemic' after she moved into Oakshade full-time and ran the facility alone to minimise risk to residents.

When the pandemic hit, Abbeyfield, the charity that runs Oakshade, reduced its staffing rota and the deputy manager was unable to work as she was recovering from an operation.

The Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex presenting Jackie Woollet, senior house manager at Oakshade in Chichester, with a BEM award.

The charity discussed bringing in agency staff to help out but there were concerns that this would put the elderly residents at risk.

Not wanting to let this happen, Jackie left her beloved dog Kye with a neighbour and moved into Oakshade to take care of the residents herself.

During the nationwide lockdown, she single-handedly did the cooking, cleaning and laundry, and also took on hairdressing responsibilities, organised activities to keep the residents entertained and became a ‘general confidant to all’.

The home held a special award ceremony on Wednesday to celebrate Jackie’s dedication to Oakshade. Residents and their families, as well as Jackie’s ‘very proud’ mum, attended to watch the Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex, Susan Pyper, present the manager with the British Empire Medal.

During the award presentation, the Lord-Lieutenant emphasised the significance that the Queen attaches to the BEM. She said: “It is one of the most special honours that it is possible to receive as it recognises the extraordinary way in which people such as Jackie Woollett selflessly make a difference to the lives of others.”

Speaking about her lockdown experience, Jackie said: “It was tiring yes, but they’re such lovely people here.

“There are so many others deserving a medal apart from me.

"I was so surprised but I do feel very honoured to receive it.”