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Honour for Ebola treatment nurse

A nurse who ran an Ebola treatment unit in Sierra Leone will be awarded an OBE for her contribution to the fight against the deadly disease.

Lieutenant Colonel Alison McCourt, of 22 Field Hospital based in Aldershot, has been recognised in the latest Operational Honours list for her role as Commanding Officer of the Kerry Town Treatment Unit.

The mother-of-two, from Llandrindod in Wales, was deployed to Sierra Leone at the beginning of the Ebola crisis in October 2014, and oversaw the clinic for eight months before returning in May.

The citation for her award commended her work preparing the unit for opening and training clinical staff, stating: "She has been in the vanguard of every development task. Her presence and personal touch have been everywhere.

"No problem has been too small to overlook, no person too insignificant to receive her full attention and the patients admitted have been received with utter professionalism and compassion instilled in the unit by McCourt.

"Her contribution to the Ebola war has been of the highest order and she thoroughly deserves public recognition."

Lt Col McCourt said the award recognised the efforts of her whole team.

She said: "It's a huge honour to be publicly recognised in this way. It's an honour not just for me but for my entire unit.

"The method of recognition is that not everybody can get this sort of award, but I think it's any individual who gets it, actually it's the because of the team behind them."

Lt Col McCourt described the Ebola operation, for which she was given just six weeks' notice, as "physically and psychologically demanding, but also professionally rewarding".

She added: "It was a scary operation, particular at the very beginning, and not without considerable risk but incredibly rewarding. The people of Sierra Leone were so welcoming to us and so receptive and I really feel that we've contributed to setting that country on the road to recovery."

Lt Col McCourt was one of 55 personnel recognised in the latest Operational Honours and awards list.

British soldier Adam Marshall, who helped create a 100-bed Ebola treatment unit in just eight weeks in Sierra Leone, will receive an MBE for his efforts. He is based in Chilwell.

He said he was "shocked" to be included in the list, adding: "It's slightly surreal to be honest. It sounds like an old cliche but obviously I was doing my job in Sierra Leone and I don't class it as anything other than that."

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