UK-Med CEO David Wightwick recognised in the King’s New Years Honours List

UK-Med CEO David Wightwick recognised in the King’s New Years Honours List

David Wightwick CEO of UK-Med has today been awarded the Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George for services to UK humanitarian support. The honour recognises his 30 year service to international humanitarianism, leading innovations that have saved countless lives.

David has been with UK-Med since January 2018 as Chief Executive Officer. His career began as an aid worker in Kosovo for the International Medical Corps and has spanned 30 years of leading and managing complex humanitarian crises for Save the Children, the World Health Organisation, Merlin, and GOAL. Considered amongst his peers as one of the best emergency operational leaders in the sector, his distinguished career has enhanced the reputation of the UK in international humanitarianism because of the key involvement in nearly all major international crises over the past 30 years. Whilst not a medic, his operational leadership has ensured emergency medical aid has been rapidly delivered when crises hit, saving thousands of lives.

David is recognised for his unwavering belief in the work he does. A strong humanitarian advocate, his lobbying has meant several humanitarian responses have happened solely because of his tenacity and commitment. Always leading from the front, he has shown exceptional bravery. In Ukraine 2022, he was one of the first people to cross into the country and access hostile areas. The direct impact of this was to show other organisations, who had not planned to enter the country, that it was possible to go in; leading to large scale lifesaving emergency medical aid getting to people quicker.

In Syria 2012, while working for Save the Children he lobbied hard to respond to the humanitarian crisis at a time the organisation was not willing to enter the country which was devastated by violence and atrocities. At the time there was widespread paralysis across the sector on what to do and how to deliver aid to Syria. David entered Syria alone at great personal risk and from this he and the team were able to build a huge cross border set-up from Turkey into Syria to deliver lifesaving humanitarian aid. A strong humanitarian advocate, this mission would not have happened without his bravery and leadership.

David has delivered humanitarian aid and has been involved in major disasters in a humanitarian capacity since 1997 including the Civil War in Liberia, West Africa Ebola Outbreak, War in Yemen, South Asia Tsunami, Covid-19 Pandemic and War in Ukraine. From war to genocide, earthquakes to tsunamis, epidemics and refuges crises, David has played a key leadership role and demonstrated bravery, leadership and humanitarianism beyond the requirements of his role.

He leads the successful delivery of the UK’s Emergency Medical Team in partnership with the FCDO, an initiative that has responded to earthquakes, cyclones, Ebola, measles and Covid-19. Using volunteers from the NHS it takes the best of British across the world; medics can be called upon 24/7, 365 days a year to deploy anywhere in the world to take critical medical aid to where it is needed most and save lives internationally.

Under David’s leadership, UK-Med was one of the first NGOs to enter Ukraine on 2 March 2022 and gain access to eastern regions where conflict and hostilities are most intense. Leading from the front and on the ground, he has led rapid medical assessment teams across towns and cities in Ukraine to understand the immediate and growing humanitarian health needs.

UK-Med has rapidly scaled up its activities to provide mobile health clinics to get primary health care to people who have fled their homes; surgical field hospital specialising in treating war wounds and limb reconstruction; mass casualty and chemical biological radiological nuclear training in response to urgent requests from hospitals to respond and prepare for imminent attack; first-aid training for civilians who are often the first on the scene following an attack; and medical supplies and equipment to support the urgent gaps in the system. An achievement and impact that few organisations have matched and is testament to the reputation and influence David has built from 30 years of being on the ground in emergencies and disasters.

Founder and Chair Professor Tony Redmond says “I am thrilled that David’s lifetime commitment to humanitarianism has been recognised in this way. It’s an honour that he richly deserves”.

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