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7 July 2015, 08:37
Thousands of people who risked their lives to tackle the Ebola epidemic in west Africa are to be given special medals in recognition of their courage.
Doctors, nurses, members of the armed forces and civil servants are among those due to receive the specifically created medals, which have been designed to mark the efforts of 3,000 people who were involved in fighting the disease.
David Cameron will host some of the military and civilian personnel who travelled to the region from the UK at Downing Street today, and will be accompanied by Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, International Development Secretary Justine Greening, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.
Recipients include John McGhie from East Kilbride and George Turkington from Hamilton.
John says: ""I am privileged to be part of the DFID team that are being recognised for their work as part of the UK Ebola response. I'm exceedingly proud to be a part of the continued efforts that have assured the disease has subsided within the region and has enabled the infection rates get under control. The combined determination of the UK Ebola response will undoubtedly eradicate Ebola from Sierra Leone, and I am forever fortunate to be a part of this delivery. I never expected to be rewarded for my efforts in West Africa, but it's an honour to receive an Ebola medal and be thanked in this way."
While George exclaimed "I am delighted to have been recognised for my work in the field to defeat Ebola. I'm proud to have been part of the work which saw cases of the disease in the region subside and got infection rates under control. I never expected to be rewarded for my efforts in West Africa, it was a fantastic team effort, with many unsung heroes in the background working tirelessly in the UK, to support the operation in West Africa. It's an honour to receive an Ebola medal which is recognition of this brilliant team effort and for all of us to be thanked in this way."
The medals, which the Prime Minister said are a tribute to their dedication, have been designed by John Bergdahl, an engraver with four decades of experience who also designed a coin set to mark the birth of Prince George.
Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people, and was declared an international health emergency in August last year.
The medal features a portrait of the Queen on one side with the words For Service and West Africa Ebola Epidemic on the other alongside a flame on a background showing the virus.
Mr Cameron said: "This medal is about paying tribute to the hard work of thousands of British heroes up and down the country who travelled to West Africa and put themselves at considerable personal risk.
"From setting up Emergency Treatment Centres and rapid diagnostics labs, through to providing vital safety equipment training, ensuring burials happened safely, and safeguarding orphans, we owe them all a debt of gratitude.
"The Ebola outbreak was one of the most devastating epidemics of our generation, but as a result of their efforts many lives were saved and the outbreak contained.
"When the world faced this crisis Britain and brave British medical staff, military personnel, aid workers and volunteers stepped up to the plate.''
A number of military medics who had been working for three months in Sierra Leone have returned to the UK in recent days.
The medics from 34 Field Hospital told of the warm welcome they had received in the disease-ravaged country, saying their work there had been a real team effort alongside volunteers from other countries as well as locally employed civilians.
The British Government has committed £427 million to the relief effort.