Olga Johnson, founder of Nourish Community Foodbank, was awarded the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her charity work as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours announced last week.
She set up Nourish in 2012 after recognising a need in the area to support households with a regular source of healthy food for those that cannot afford it.
Since then, it has gone on to provide thousands of meals each year to needy families, and saw its busiest year during the pandemic, when it provided more than 90,000 meals to hard up households.
Olga was awarded the MBE not just for founding Nourish but also for her other charity work – setting up Charity Recruitment Search, working for Trustees Unlimited, and giving her time to trustee roles at Nourish, Institute of Fundraising, Sightsavers, Healthprom and SPANA since retirement.
The Operations Director of the foodbank, Dawn Stanford, has also been recognised with a BEM (British Empire Medal).
Dawn, who has worked for Nourish for more than eight years, has been given the award for her commitment to helping families in crisis, but also has been recognised for her ability to adapt in times of crisis, such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
Paul Haines, Chair of the Nourish Trustees, said: “We are absolutely delighted that both Olga and Dawn have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for their hard work and dedication to supporting people in emergency crisis in the borough of Tunbridge Wells.
“In 2012, Olga saw a need to develop a regular source of healthy food to support households who couldn’t afford it. Since those early days, the charity has grown to meet demand and last year provided over 91,000 meals (2019-2020).
“Throughout the pandemic we have seen an unprecedented growth in demand for our services, and our incredible team of staff and volunteers, under Dawn’s leadership, have gone above and beyond to meet this unmet need.”
More Local Birthday Honours
Other people in the area honoured by the Queen last week include Victoria Anne Rayner from Tunbridge Wells, who is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Care Forum. She receives the Order of the Bath for services to Social Care.
Patricia Bernal from Tunbridge Wells, who is the co-founder and Trustee of Protection Against Stalking, has received an OBE [Order of the British Empire] for services to the Prevention of Stalking.
And Lynda Shepherd from Wadhurst, East Sussex, has received an MBE for services to the community in Kilndown, Kent.