Tenacity, selflessness and going the last mile

Our CEO Richard reflects on 2019 and the incredible impact our volunteer Greyshirts have had on those whose lives have been devastated by disaster.


As I sit in front of the fire at home in Cornwall surrounded by my family, it affords me a little time to reflect on the year and just how much Team Rubicon UK has achieved. 2019 certainly provided no let up and we stretched ourselves to our very limits. From Mozambique to Sheffield, our responders have continued to answer the call when disaster strikes and demonstrate complete selflessness.

For me, looking back on this year, it is the sheer tenacity of the women and men that make up this organisation that stands out. They never give up; nothing is too hard, too far, too risky; if there is a community in need, our people find a way.

It’s when Holli led a team deep into the bush of South Buzi to create an airfield to get aid into a cut-off community; it’s when Maria and Keith got water purification units into the unreachable areas of Saluwesi; it’s when Lizzie flew on Christmas day to Indonesia via Detroit to pick up mission critical water units; it’s when Tim gained political access in Maputo, or when H’ Honnorarty pulled off the impossible with Indonesian customs. There is too much to list everything here, but I find myself humbled time and again by the incredible people who volunteer to walk towards danger with Team Rubicon UK. They are, without doubt, the best people I have ever met, and I am so proud to serve them as their Chief Executive.

There have been many proud moments in my life, but all pale into insignificance when I think about our team that responded to Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, the worst storm to ever hit Africa. With devastating flood waters, huge areas were deemed unreachable by aid agencies and hundreds of people were dying or missing. For weeks on end, our teams moved on foot, by boat, vehicle or helicopter to locate cut-off communities, create logistic hubs and distribute hundreds of tonnes of aid to the survivors. The whole time living in the field and self-sustaining to ensure they reached the unreachable. Their utter commitment to help the people of Mozambique was humbling and like nothing I had ever witnessed before.

To all of you who volunteer for us, you are incredible. Thank you for everything you do.

2019 has not been without its challenges though and I feel so incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by a full-time team and Board that are as committed to the mission as our responders. A team that stays on task all year, every day, often late into the night and early in the morning, they are driving the mission forward.

Of course, none of this would be possible without our incredibly generous funders and supporters who stand shoulder to shoulder with us as we deploy response teams around the world. Thank you for your support and I can’t wait to face into 2020 with you all.

Here is to a wonderful, hopefully disaster free, Christmas and New Year.

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