City’s tribute to St Bartholomew’s Hospital staff for COVID-19 pandemic work

Four members of frontline staff at a major London hospital will receive the Freedom of the City of London next week, in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the hospital’s work during the COVID-19 outbreak.

A doctor, a nurse, a physiotherapist, and a technician from St Bartholomew’s Hospital, which is part of Barts Health NHS Trust, will be given their awards during a publicly viewable, ‘virtual’ Freedom ceremony on Wednesday 22 July at 3pm.

The ceremony will be conducted via Microsoft Teams and streamed ‘live’ on the City of London Corporation’s YouTube channel - - similar in format to the ceremony for Captain Sir Tom Moore, the Second World War veteran and NHS fundraiser, held in May.

Professor Charles Knight MD FRCP, the hospital’s Chief Executive, who will also receive the Freedom, in recognition of his leadership, has put forward the following four members of staff:

  • Dr Jonathan Lambourne MRCP FRCPath, consultant in infectious diseases
  • Heather Byers, Associate Director of Nursing, Critical Care, Surgery & Respiratory
  • Paul Watson, Lead Clinical Technologist
  • Natalie Scott, Clinical Lead Physiotherapist for Barts Heart Centre

The granting of the awards follows an approach to St Bartholomew’s Hospital’s management team by the City of London Corporation’s Freedom Applications Committee to demonstrate the City Corporation’s support for the Square Mile’s local hospital, and to express its gratitude to all those who work there.

Following the presentation of the awards by Dr Peter Kane, the Chamberlain of London, and after adding his own congratulations, Lord Mayor William Russell will invite some of the new Freemen to talk briefly about their frontline work as the COVID-19 pandemic developed.

William Russell, Lord Mayor of the City of London, said:

“I’ve been hugely impressed by the expertise, professionalism, and humanity shown by NHS staff and other care workers who have been nursing patients back to health or sadly, comforting them in their final hours.

“Not only do these Freedom awards for Jonathan, Heather, Paul, Natalie, and Charles enable us to pay tribute to their remarkable work, they acknowledge the work of St Bartholomew’s and by extension, provide us with an opportunity to thank all NHS key workers.”

Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chair at the City of London Corporation, said:

“As custodians of the Square Mile, we share the nation’s gratitude for those who work so tirelessly, and with such dedication, for the NHS, never more so than in recent months, as they have dealt with the extraordinary challenges presented by COVID-19.

“It is my pleasure to join the Lord Mayor in supporting these nominations, and to send the City’s sincere thanks to all of their colleagues at our local hospital.”

Sir David Wootton, Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Freedom Applications Committee, said:

“These Freedoms, supported by the Lord Mayor and Policy Chair, are richly deserved, and it is entirely right that these members of the St Bartholomew’s team are congratulated on their exemplary work.

“We are particularly delighted that, by conducting the ceremony online, many other people will be able to witness this unique event.”

Professor Charles Knight, Chief Executive of St Bartholomew’s Hospital, said:

"We are so very grateful to the Lord Mayor and the City of London Corporation for honouring the contribution of St Bartholomew's Hospital to the treatment of patients during the pandemic in this very special way.

“The support of the City of London Corporation was crucial to us during the enormously challenging situation that we have faced at the hospital over the past few months, and these awards celebrate and refresh the centuries-long partnership between the City and its Hospital."

The Freedom of the City of London, which is believed to have begun in 1237, was used to enable recipients to carry out their trade. Today, people are nominated for, or apply for, the Freedom, because it offers them a link with the historic City of London and one of its ancient traditions.

The Freedom is also offered to individuals by the City of London Corporation to help celebrate a significant achievement, or to pay tribute to their outstanding contribution to London life or public life.


Media enquiries and interviews:

Andrew Buckingham, Media Officer (Arts and Culture), City of London Corporation

M: +44 (0) 7795 333060


About the City of London Corporation:

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK. 

About Barts Health NHS Trust:

Barts Health is a leading healthcare provider in Britain and one of the largest NHS trusts in the country. The Trust’s five hospitals – St Bartholomew’s Hospital in the City, including the Barts Heart Centre, The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, Newham University Hospital in Plaistow, Whipps Cross University Hospital in Leytonstone, and Mile End Hospital – deliver high quality compassionate care to the 2.5 million people of east London and beyond.

About the Freedom recipients:

Dr Jonathan Lambourne MRCP FRCPath

Dr Lambourne is a consultant in infectious diseases, based at St Bart’s Hospital. He and his team have been responsible for the overall operational strategy at St Bartholomew’s Hospital for the handling of COVID-19. He has devised and overseen the infection control measures which apply at the hospital and which have enabled it to continue to offer care safely during the crisis, in particular, to cancer and cardiac patients. Dr Lambourne has been heavily involved in the management of the virus at St Bartholomew’s since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Heather Byers, Associate Director of Nursing for Critical Care, Surgery & Respiratory

[Testimonial from senior management team at St Bartholomew’s Hospital]:

Heather has gone above and beyond, showing great skill in leading the nursing teams within her adult critical care unit (ACCU) at a time of great change and need. Her 300 ACCU nursing workforce was joined by an additional 150 redeployed staff as critical care was coping with patients suffering from COVID-19. This was also at a time when St Bartholomew’s was designated to lead emergency cardiac surgery across the whole of London. Heather has shown commitment way beyond what would be expected of her role. She has been an inspiration to others in her area under very difficult circumstances. Her dedication even resulted in coming into work on her days off to ensure the safety of her patients and the unit.

Paul Watson, Lead Clinical Technologist

[Testimonial from senior management team at St Bartholomew’s Hospital]:

Paul has 20 years of experience in clinical engineering at the Trust and has spent the last five years as St Bartholomew’s as Engineering Lead. Paul rose amazingly to the challenge of equipping the hospital for the unprecedented pandemic. A near doubling of ICU beds required a huge amount of equipment to be sourced and deployed safely at very short notice, and Paul has done an amazing job, working very long hours. He is highly regarded across all the clinical teams in the hospital.

Natalie Scott, Clinical Lead Physiotherapist for Critical Care

[Testimonial from senior management team at St Barts]:

Natalie has been an enthusiastic and inspiring presence, whose influence throughout the difficult days of the COVID-19 pandemic has reached way beyond her own team. She has shown that determination to lift everybody’s spirits in times of difficulty that has always been the hallmark of the outstanding staff of the hospital. This was typified by the video produced by Natalie and her team of therapists as they danced in the square of the hospital. The pleasure and enthusiasm was there for all to see and, not surprisingly, it spread - better than any virus - throughout the patients and staff of the hospital, and throughout the country as it was transmitted on national television.

Professor Charles Knight MD FRCP, Chief Executive

Professor Charles Knight is the Chief Executive of St Bartholomew’s Hospital, which forms part of the broader Barts Health NHS Trust of several hospitals. Professor Knight has played a critical role in the City of London Corporation’s close relationship with St Bartholomew’s.