A Chorleywood woman who has received a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours has said she was “humbled” to receive the award.
Vanessa Rousseau was given the honour for “services to the community” during COVID-19, where she helped set up the Chorleywood Corona Support Group to aid those living alone during the pandemic and prevent them from going hungry.
Speaking to CHORLEYWOODnews, she credited the community for the prize. “Community support here has been massive. There were so many mums and dads, all people our age who felt it was important. It was a whole generation stepping up.
“The award is totally dedicated to the volunteers. As a group, we did it all together.”
Vanessa was inspired to do something after isolating just before the pandemic with her mother, which got her thinking about other elderly residents having to face the situation alone. So, she thought of organising a support group giving food parcels to those in need.
“I set up the material and connected with churches, care homes, schools, the residents’ association and the council. We were on a mission, and soon, 250 volunteers were all willing to step up.”
“The first phase of it was looking after the older generation, but then they started asking how they could help. That’s when we set up the charity, which allowed us to give more.”
Vanessa will now be attending a special ceremony where she will be awarded her BEM.
Speaking about how it felt to set up the support group, Vanessa said: “When you’ve got that situation, you just want to help. It feels good to help. It showed the best of Chorleywood people. Huge hearts.”