Burnley man awarded MBE in recognition of Ebola crisis role in Sierra Leone

A proud former pupil of St Theodore's RC High School has been awarded the MBE for his work in Sierra Leone during the country's Ebola outbreak.

Tuesday, 15th January 2019, 3:11 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 7:37 pm
Dr Chris Berry MBE
Dr Chris Berry MBE

Dr Chris Berry, who was born in Colbran Street, Duke Bar, received the prestigious honour in the Queen's New Year's Honours List in recognition of his work in Sierra Leone during the country's Ebola crisis in 2014.

Dr Berry (61) first went to the West African country in the 1980s after graduating from Lancaster University with a degree in English Literature.

His initial visit, through the Voluntary Service Overseas scheme, sparked what would become a lifelong desire to work in education overseas, which culminated in Dr Berry being made a senior education adviser for the Government's Department for International Development.

It was in this role he returned to Sierra Leone during the country's devastating Ebola outbreak in 2014.

He said: "It was a complete shock when I discovered I had been awarded the MBE. I believe I will be presented with it, hopefully at Buckingham Palace by the Queen, sometime in the summer.

"During the Ebola crisis many aspects of Sierra Leone society shut down, including the schools. It was my job to co-ordinate efforts to re-open the schools and help the children make up for lost time.

"The people of Sierra Leone are amongst the friendliest and most resilient in the world, even in the midst of such an extreme crisis. I love the people and the place and feel privileged to have had the chance to go back after all those years."

Dr Berry, who has a brother Stephen who still lives in Burnley, and a sister Carolyn, said he had been ribbed by his own family, wife Nicki and children Anna, Rachel and Mekdes, since learning about his award.

Now living in Brighton, his work has taken him around the world including Indonesia and Ethiopia.