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February 22, 2006

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Members honoured

Two IOSH members picked up MBEs in the 2006 Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for their services to health care and further education.

Jean Thomas (pictured), head of nursing and counselling at the Metropolitan Police, and Barbara Green, safety, health and environment manager at Portsmouth’s Highbury College, received MBEs for their many years of achievement.

Dealing with disaster

Jean qualified as a state-registered nurse in 1968 and has worked in hospitals in London, Welwyn Garden City and Northampton. She began her career in occupational health in 1987 by working at DRG/John Dickinson, before joining the Metropolitan Police in 1992 as part of a new occupational health advisory team.

She was the professional lead on an award-winning infection control training package, but Jean has also played a prominent role in preparing the occupational health response to major incidents, such as the Bali bombings, the ricin and anthrax terrorist threats, the Asian tsunami, and the London bombings. Jean also supported the police response at the Paddington and Hatfield rail crashes, providing counselling for police officers traumatised by the events.

She said: “I lead on the OH response to major incidents, and I worked closely with the London Mental Health Trusts Steering Group after the London bombs, securing high-priority treatment for emergency workers showing high levels of traumatic stress.”

Up for the challenge

Barbara received her MBE for her services to further education, particularly on health, safety and environmental issues. She has worked for Highbury College for 35 years, originally as a lecturer, before moving into her current role in 1996.

Barbara was responsible for setting up Highbury College’s health and safety system and for ensuring it functioned across the college. This needed people to focus on the same goal, and as Barbara pointed out: “We spent a lot of time raising awareness, persuading and cajoling people to take health and safety on board.”

This meant involving all members of staff in the development of the system, while Barbara also worked hard to develop links with the Learning and Skills Council and businesses in the local area.

According to Barbara, ‘always being up for a challenge’ is critical in any health and safety role, and her current role is no exception: “It’s always a challenge and you’ve got to be up for it to achieve what you wish to.”


On receiving the MBE, Jean’s response was one of “absolute astonishment and shock. As the news sank in, I felt pride for myself, for occupational health, and for the Met Police.”

Barbara commented: “I felt completely overwhelmed when I opened the paper and saw my name. It’s a tremendous honour for the college and for the team with whom I’ve worked.”

IOSH congratulates both Jean and Barbara, and wishes them both a happy day at the Palace.

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