Catherine Ruddick Of Derwent Receives A British Empire Medal


We are beyond proud to announce the receipt of a British Empire Medal by our Lifestyle Coordinator at Derwent; Catherine Ruddick. The British Empire Medal (BEM) is a British and Commonwealth award for meritorious civil (or military) service worthy of recognition by the Crown. It’s perhaps a surprise to most outside of Mariposa, that those of us within Mariposa aren’t surprised at all that Catherine has received such a high honour for her outstanding contribution to care.

“In 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic I was nominated by Mr. John O’Connor (chairman of the health and wellbeing task group at the Derwent valley partnership) to be added to the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. On the 15th of Sep 2020 I received an email from the Cabinet Office informing me Queen Elizabeth II had instructed the Prime Minister to inform me I had been chosen from a list of nominees to receive the British Empire Medal and would be hearing from the Lord Lieutenant soon. I was overwhelmed and overjoyed to hear all the lovely words written. I felt very humbled.” – Catherine Ruddick

Below you’ll find the reasons why Catherine received the BEM. Answers supplied by Mr. John O’Connor.

Question: What was the nominee (Catherine) doing before COVID-19 that made them an outstanding individual in their field? Focus on the impact that they have had on residents, colleagues or the wider health and social care sector. One example of their work would help to strengthen the case.

Answer: Catherine is the Lifestyle Coordinator at Derwent Care Home who has worked tirelessly to engage with her community and has inspired businesses to support her activities with much needed resources. An example of this was acquiring some wine from a local business so that the residents could dress up for wine and cheese parties and link with a local theatre group who performed in the care home. She also has worked as a volunteer at Consett Rugby Club for many years supporting girls rugby and many other aspects of the running of the club. She is a ‘dynamo’ that drives community engagement. She continued to give her time and passion despite coping with a family bereavement (the loss of her granddaughter).

Question: What was the nominees role during the COVID-19 pandemic? What has been the impact of their work? How have things changed due to their efforts?

Answer: Nominally she is a Lifestyle Coordinator, however when COVID-19 made the care sector a dangerous place Catherine rose to the challenge. She worked many long hours to ensure, through technology, that family could speak to residents every day and engaged with the families in a very personal way to help the family’s anxieties. Remarkably, Catherine caught COVID-19, and after isolation and finally testing negative she at once returned to her vocation. Online ‘singing for the brain’ and other activities helped relieve the stress of the pandemic. Again, her interaction with businesses procured PPE, then in short supply, and she worked tirelessly to protect her residents and their families both physically and mentally. They say “Real Heroes Run Toward- Not Away From- Danger” and her actions are heroic. Coupled with a bubbly personality and a positive attitude she has absorbed the stress from both residents and families and comforted them through this difficult period with practical support.

Question: What is it that makes your nominee outstanding? Why should they receive recognition above others? Why does this achievement set them above others in the field? This may focus on how they are a role-model, how they have innovated or changed things, or perhaps provided a truly remarkable, selfless, and sustained level of service. One or two examples of their contribution would help to strengthen the case.

Answer: Catherine overcame adversity – the loss of her granddaughter in tragic circumstances and then contracting COVID-19 would have floored most people. It is her resilience and dedication that sets her apart from most people and particularly dealing with the vulnerable people at Derwent Care Home. Her determination to use her networks to bring the community and business together to both fight COVID-19 and ensure the residents lived at a level of normality is the result of Catherine’s personality, that’s the intangible element. One small example will illustrate this, the care home could not get cleaning materials such as kitchen rolls, but one phone call from Catherine to a business that had closed, and the owner opened the premises and delivered their stock to the care home. Catherine was determined to ensure that the residents would not be disadvantaged and be uncomfortable in any way and that dedication sustains morale in the difficult times.

In the words of Catherine:

I attended the Lord Lieutenants home to take part in a ceremony presenting me with a personal British Empire Medal crafted at the Royal Mint, and engraved with my name. I was also invited to the Royal Garden Party, rearranged following COVID-19 becoming under control. Thankfully that has happened this year and just in time for HRH Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee.

Above are a selection of photographs of John, myself, Sue (Lord Lieutenant) and my husband.

It was a most enjoyable experience attending the Garden Party. Even though it rained it didn’t stop us enjoying ourselves. Live music was played from two military bands at each corner of the garden. The Queen loves roses and her garden was full of different rose bushes which were behind the pond where her swans and ducks glided along the water. A wonderful experience and something to cherish.

A word from Mariposa’s Directors:

We are proud of all of our staff, who work tirelessly to provide the residents in our care with the best possible life within our care homes. And Catherine’s shining example is something we should all aspire to. We are humbled and honoured to have Catherine working for Mariposa, along with all of our staff. They, and she – inspire us everyday.