TfL staff recognised in 2021 New Years Honours

30 December 2020
"Both Sharon and Mat are examples of the tireless work that has gone on behind the scenes to make sure Londoners could still make the journeys they needed during this difficult year"
  • Their actions helped those needing to make essential journeys across London's transport network

Sharon Sear and Mat Sullivan, colleagues at London Underground, have been awarded British Empire Medals (BEM) in recognition of their work protecting transport staff and customers from the pandemic.

Sharon, from Fareham, Hampshire, realised early on that teams who are essential to the day-to-day running of the Tube were going through their personal protective equipment (PPE) quicker than stocks could be replenished as calls for PPE increased worldwide. Staff working in London Underground's Asset Operations team - who maintain the network - needed to wear PPE before the pandemic began due to the nature of the roles. When Sharon noticed that they had used a year's supply in just three months - and stocks of other safety equipment was also being quickly used up - she realised that this was only going to get worse.

When TfL's usual suppliers started redirecting much of their stock to the NHS, she worked diligently to find other companies who could continue to provide the level of protective equipment needed to keep colleagues safe. Her tireless work included obtaining millions of face coverings for staff and thousands of hand sanitisers, as well as helping implement new procurement control methods for ordering stock during the pandemic.

Sharon also made sure that the NHS could continue to receive lifesaving face masks at the height of the shortage by ensuring TfL's supplies came from a different range of countries to where the NHS supplies were being sent from. This work also helped mitigate any further disruption caused by lockdown measures as supplies were not dependent on one source. By spotting the problems early on, Sharon helped TfL supply protective equipment to Tube and bus workers across the capital as well as the cleaners who have also been essential to TfL's coronavirus response.

Mat Sullivan, from Ruislip, usually manages material for London Underground's Railway Engineering Works, Train Modification Unit and Uniform Services. However, when the world was faced with the coronavirus pandemic, he made sure that vital PPE reached colleagues who required it for their roles quickly, and ensured face coverings and other protective equipment were made available for frontline staff. He put himself at the forefront of TfL's response, using his knowledge and experience to rapidly repurpose his Uniform Services team from a uniform supplies facility to managing huge quantities of critical stock for delivery across London.

Mat personally stepped up to lead on receiving the vastly increased levels of equipment, including millions of face masks, hundreds of thousands of hand sanitisers, as well as thousands of response kits, which then had to be sorted, packed and distributed from the London Resilience stockpile to TfL staff across London. At the peak of the first wave during the summer, , Mat stored and distributed 1.5 million face coverings across 48 hours, as well as creating more than 1,000 rapid response kits in three days to help keep colleagues safe.

Andy Byford, London's Transport Commissioner, said:

'Both Sharon and Mat are examples of the tireless work that has gone on behind the scenes to make sure Londoners could still make the journeys they needed during this difficult year. They, like many across the company, have gone above and beyond to help keep staff and customers safe. Those behind the scenes are often the unsung heroes of the operation, so it's fantastic to see them recognised at this level. Their work has kept our frontline teams as safe as possible and we are all extremely thankful for their efforts.'

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

'Our heroic transport workers - both those on the frontline and those working behind the scenes - have gone above and beyond throughout the pandemic to keep the network running. I'm delighted that Sharon and Mat have been recognised for their tireless work. Sourcing and distributing vast quantities of face coverings, hand sanitiser and other protective equipment was, and continues to be, essential to ensure public transport is as safe as it can possibly be.'

Sharon Sear, former Commercial Manager at TfL, said:

'I am thrilled to be given this honour, and I see it not just an award for myself but in recognition of the collaborative effort between my team, colleagues in Safety, Health and Environment and our supply chain. It's great to know that our work helped keep my colleagues and our customers safe. It's been a tough year but I'm proud to have helped TfL respond to the pandemic and I know my former colleagues will continue to keep this work going.'

Mat Sullivan, Material Manager - Uniform Service and Workshops at TfL, said:

'The success we experienced in getting the essential safety equipment such as face coverings and hand sanitiser out to our colleagues across London Underground wouldn't have been possible without the hard work and collaboration of our Warehouse teams in Acton and Uniform Services. To be recognised by my peers and colleagues for doing my job is a humbling experience and one I find quite overwhelming.'

Notes to editors

  • Sharon has recently taken up a new role at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton.