Revealed: nominations for our Covid Hero Awards

From clinically vulnerable ICU doctors working seven days a week to Shabbat Zoom volunteers who have single-handedly kept their community going through its darkest hours, we received over 200 nominations for our Covid Hero Awards in partnership with Healt


Choosing a shortlist for the JC Covid Hero Awards, in partnership with Healthcare Clarity, has been an almost impossible but hugely inspiring task, writes Stephen Pollard

Everyone nominated is a hero. But we felt that this shortlist reflects the great variety of contributions to communal life, and beyond, during the pandemic, from individuals doing what they can to help to what have become global operations.

Please do vote — just send an email to with the name of the nominee you think should be the winner of our Covid Hero Award.

Dr Deborah Braham

A mother of two children, aged ten and 11, Deborah has been working on the front line as an intensive- care doctor looking after Covid ICU patients at the Hammersmith Hospital. Her long hours include working on Covid surge rotas.

In addition, she responded to a lack of PPE for ICU staff by encouraging the community to make PPE for frontline healthcare workers. This effort grew and grew, and soon it became a movement called the “Visor Army”.

This had started as school mums’ group and went on to involve whole families, professional milliners, designers and dressmakers and TV personalities, all making visors that were distributed to hospitals and care homes. In total they made 85,000 visors.

Deborah also tackled shortages of other PPE items such as gowns and hoods – which she sourced outside her extraordinary working hours using social media.

The Zoom Shabbat volunteers

What started as a small group based around New North London Synagogue grew rapidly as word spread. Now there are regularly more than 250 people attending.

The team of volunteers who organise and run Zoom Shabbat not only do a brilliant technical job but also – far more importantly – offer a genuine experience of communal participation, spiritual uplift and support.

One person wrote: “This past year of isolation has seen me attend shul every week, which is more times than I have attended shul in the past 30 years!

“It has allowed me to contribute, to feel part of a community, to join in celebrating others’ important life events such as bar- and batmitzvot and anniversaries, to pay my respects to those in mourning.

“The moment in the service when those who are saying Kaddish unmute — and there are many — is a most moving experience.”

Another wrote: “It is my final Shabbat of reciting Kaddish for my father… The London Zoom Shabbat has done more than offer to me the opportunity of honouring and remembering my father.

“The team at Zoom Shabbat have provided me with a structure, with a service that is familiar.

“This communal resource has also moved my husband, a reluctant shul-goer, to join in and become a contributor to this amazing online weekly celebration of Shabbat and life.

“We have celebrated birthdays, joined bat- and barmitzvot, supported those in need of healing and wept with those who have lost loved ones to this cruel pandemic.

Juliette Harris

Already working as an NHS Genetic Counsellor at Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow, Juliette volunteered to take part in the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine trial despite uncertainty about its safety and efficacy.

Since the vaccine was approved, she has worked hard to promote its safety and reliability, and encouraged its uptake.

In early January, she started volunteering in an intensive care unit (ICU) at Northwick Park in th e Covid ward as part of the proning team, volunteering very long shifts and weekends and over New Year.

Recently, she has been redeployed and works part-time in ICU.

After discussing with a psychiatrist the effects of working in the ICU, she organised a discussion group with fellow ICU workers/volunteers, giving them a chance to openly discuss what they are going through with others in the same situation.

Simon and Joanne Lappin

We have made an exception to our anonymous nominations policy for this, by ten-year-old Benji Lappin:

“Since March 2020, my dad, Simon (a consultant in Barnet Hospital Intensive Care Unit), has been working seven days a week on very long shifts, saving the lives and looking after very sick patients dying of Covid.

“I hardly see him. He has been working very long night and day shifts for the last year and has not had any holiday or time off work since Covid began. But he never complains. I often try to stay awake in my bed waiting for him to kiss me goodnight but I then fall asleep and don’t get to see him.

“But what I find most heroic about my Dad is that he is clinically extremely vulnerable with Type 1 diabetes and shouldn’t be working on the front line at all, especially with the worst of the Covid patients.

“But he wanted to support his struggling colleagues and has been working in ICU every single day since last March. Only heroes put others first!

“He also gets loads of phone calls from rabbis and their wives, asking if he can visit their elderly friends or relatives in hospital who are lonely and sad as they can’t be visited by family. So before and after his shifts he goes to different wards and sits with patients, buying them magazines and newspapers to read and sends them messages from their families.

“My mum worries about his physical and mental health every day but we all know that what he is doing is a real mitzvah.

My mum, Joanne, supports my dad and is his true second half. She has seen my dad come home from work every day/night totally exhausted. She waits up for him to come home at all hours of the night and morning. She is his rock and listens to him talk about the terrible phone calls he had to make to families of dying patients.

“All my friends’ dads work from home and get to see and play with them everyday. My mum tries to be both a mum and a dad for us when dad’s working. I know she’s struggling internally but tries to appear happy all the time for us. That kind of behaviour is heroic, in my opinion.

“In the first lockdown she wrote a WhatsApp message that went viral all over the world. She asked people to support her consultant husband in ICU by keeping the Covid rules. She explained what the rules were and how to keep them.

“In this current lockdown she spoke to the doctors and nurses in daddy’s hospital to ask how they were coping. They were very depressed and overstretched so she set up a fundraising page to raise money for the staff in Barnet Intensive Care Unit.

“She raised £8,045 on her own in just five weeks! She didn’t use social media but just called family and friends and various shuls. She spent hours and hours on the phone.

“She has been using the money to buy essential items and gifts for 300 doctors and nurses in ICU and sends things twice a week. She packages each item in a gift bag with a thank-you note to make it personal, as well as sending drinks, snacks and coffee machines, massage chairs etc.

“When she’s not helping us with homeschooling on Zoom, she gets us all to help her pack the handcreams, food, shower creams, deodorants as well as Nespresso coffee machines, radios, massage chairs and lots of tea and coffee supplies.

“And all after breaking a foot a few months ago. Even with her leg in pain and wearing a special boot she devotes her time to helping others. Some nurses have contacted her to thank her. They were very emotional on the phone.

“She also arranges for the Jewish doctors in ICU to get kosher meals every week so they don’t get hungry during their long shifts. She really cares about dad and his colleagues.

“Both my parents got Covid last April and were both very sick in bed with it for about four weeks. They still came down, made us meals, gave us things to do and then went back to bed.”

Richard Carlowe

Richard is a well-respected member of Barnet shul, where he and his wife Fran are part of the board committee. He is in charge of the social aspect of the shul which during these awful times has been greatly appreciated by the whole community.

He has single-handily organised a Barnet’s Got Talent show, weekly quizzes and bingos, and interesting talks. He runs the website and social media and releases monthly podcasts, sharing his experience of what it means to be Jewish and his love for Judaism and the community.

He has set up and continues to assist the WD6 food bank in Borehamwood.

Over the pandemic, Richard organised the Old Habs cricket clubhouse to be used as a donation and food bank hub. This has fed many people who cannot afford to feed themselves and their loved ones.

During the first lockdown, as well as running the food bank using the charity that he has run and managed for over ten years, he managed to feed NHS staff while also injecting money in the local shops around our home.

The Property Breakfast Club (the charity that he runs), donated thousands to feed NHS staff with sushi and other food.

He has also raised £20,000 over the pandemic to donate to various causes.

This has benefited the community as a whole and is an incredible achievement.

He is now volunteering at Wentworth Vaccine Hub. He has been trained to man the computers and log people who have had the Covid vaccination.

Hannah Style

Hannah runs FEAST ( Before the pandemic, FEAST’s volunteers would make a big meal every week in two homeless shelters, cooking up surplus food collected from local supermarkets. The meal, made with the residents of the shelter, would be eaten with them, thus fulfilling the charity’s three main goals of preventing malnutrition, reducing food waste and building community. Some 2,500 meals were produced in 2019.

When lockdown began in March 2020 the communal cooking and eating had to stop but Hannah realised there was even greater need for food provision, so she reorganised the charity to produce and deliver meals in a socially safe manner. She then approached the two London boroughs where FEAST was operating to get them to designate the charity as an essential service so that it could operate in lockdown.

When they realised the great work FEAST was doing, the councils asked if more meals could be made. The growth was exponential: 25,000 meals in 2020 (a ten-fold growth) and heading towards 80,000-100,000 meals this year across four councils. And all this while holding down her full-time NHS job providing dietetic services to patients with learning disabilities.

Marcus Ardeman

Prior to Covid, Marcus was very involved in the Ambulance Wish Foundation, regularly taking patients who were at the end of their lives out for their last wishes.

He quickly realised that the ambulance could be put to good use by transporting food for the You Donate, We Deliver charity. A year on, the ambulance has been replaced by a lorry for Marcus to deliver food parcels, prepared meals and snacks to NHS staff, ambulance drivers and many of the community that can’t get out, at evenings and weekends while also working full time. He is always at the end of the phone ready to deliver when and where needed. Marcus is also an assistant scout leader for 16th Edgware Scout Group and he has supported engaging weekly activities for more than 35 children.

Dr Leora Harverd

Leora’s work in the role of Lead Clinical Doctor at Temple Fortune Health Centre in north London during the vaccine rollout has been outstanding. She has survived on three to four hours sleep a night in order to ensure that the maximum number of people are vaccinated each day with no wastage.

Dr Harverd set up a hub very early on. She overcame many challenges to make it happen. Together with her colleague Karen Grossmark, she turned the area to the the rear of the practice — a large car park — into a fully operational vaccine centre using a large marquee so that a number of cubicles were created with a large socially distanced waiting area . The practice has become a centre of vaccinating excellence.

Chazen Alby Chait

Alby and his team of volunteers at the UHC community in Leeds have created and shared a remarkable series of initiatives for his community, including:

  • Broadcasting morning prayers on FB almost every single day of the past year.
  • Food deliveries for the NHS.
  • Socially distanced visits for sick and lonely.
  • Facilitating simchas.
  • Reopening the shul when possible. His efforts have been described as “remarkable, endless and incredibly uplifting not only within his own community but nationwide and indeed internationally.”

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