Linton doctor Rachel Furley awarded MBE in New Year Honours

Rachel Furley

Rachel Furley - Credit: Archant

Paediatrician Rachel Furley, who lives in Linton and works at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, has been awarded an MBE for services to sick and disabled children in the UK and Belarus.

In 2003, while a medical student at Downing College, Cambridge, Rachel set up Bridges to Belarus which helps children who continue to be affected by 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Rachel, now 32, said: “We support 800 children and their families. We have provided beds and clothes and food parcels. These families are very poor, a lot of them have no running water. Some of them are trying to live on £5 a month. We make sure the children are fed and they go to school every day.”

When congratulated on her honour, she said: “I’m still shocked, it still hasn’t sunk in. I’ve never received or asked for recognition for what I do. Maybe it will sink in now.”

Twice a year, Rachel travels to Belarus to take out clothes, food and other goods. Her mother, Sheila has set up a summer school there for children who want to learn English.

Her interest in the children of Chernobyl began when she was aged 14 and at secondary school in Weymouth.

“When I lived in Dorset, holidays were organised there for children from Belarus. Some of them became depressed when they went back. I spoke Russian so I kept in touch and I set up the charity when I started studying medicine and a lot of people were keen to help.

“Some of the children are now my age and I have known them for 20 years. I know all the 800 children we help and every penny donated goes to help them. There are no overheads.”

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Rachel, who uses a wheelchair because of an inherited disorder which affects her joints and a spinal chord injury, is also the patron of Wheels for Martin’s Friends, a charity set up in memory of Martin Dellar, a teenager from Guilden Morden, whose family raised money for his wheelchair and after he died continued to raise money to supply them to other people.