Tristan midwife is awarded British Empire Medal

A retired midwife on Tristan da Cunha has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the 2013 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

The citation reads: Mrs Marilyn (Gladys) Anna LAVARELLO, Midwife, Camogli Hospital, Tristan da Cunha. For services to the community in Tristan da Cunha.

According to the Tristan website, Gladys is expected to be presented with her honour when Governor Mark Capes visits the island aboard the HMS St Helena later in the year.

The British Empire Medal was revived in 2012 by Prime Minister David Cameron to recognise “the dedication and hard work so many provide to their communities”.

It has been discontinued in 1993 by his predecessor, John Major, who said it entrenched class divisions because it was only awarded to people of lower social rank. It was known as “the working class gong”.

Past recipients included George Benjamin, the man who rediscovered the lost St Helena ebony and worked to raise awareness of the importance of the island’s unique plants.

Sir Bob Kerslake, chairman of the honours committee told the BBC in 2012: “It’s very, very local contribution, hands-on action on the ground.”

In the UK, the BEM is not awarded by the Queen or Prince of Wales but by Lord-Lieutenants, who are the representatives of the Crown for each county in the UK.

Peter Caruana, the former Chief Minister of Gibraltar, is made a knight of the Order of St Michael and St George. He is one of nine people to be honoured for services to Gibraltar in the 2013 list.

No one from St Helena, Ascension or the Falkland Islands has been included in the list.

Visit the Tristan website to see a picture of Marilyn Lavarello.

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