THE Queen’s birthday honours list has recognised the incredible efforts of a healthcare volunteer group boss and the founders of a charity which helped Swindon school students.

Helpforce CEO Mark Lever from Swindon has been made an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to volunteering during Covid-19.

Meanwhile, Red Box Project co-founder Clegg Bamber was made a member of the British Empire (MBE) for services to education.

Clegg Bamber started the Red Box Project in Portsmouth in 2017 with fellow newly-honoured MBE Anna Miles while at university and now works in Swindon for part of the UKRI network.

The charity fundraised to give period products to students and issued a legal challenge to the government on discrimination grounds, arguing that they should be offered to schools for free.

The government agreed and in January 2020, the phs Group and Department of Education set up a scheme allowing state-maintained schools and colleges to sign up and place orders for free tampons.

Mr Bamber said: “I never thought I would see myself in an honours list, it was a bit of a shock, it came out of the blue. I’m incredibly humbled to be acknowledged for the work we have done.

“The charity grew exponentially as word got out about what we were doing. It was something we worked on voluntarily in our spare time but the work was intense in the run up to the legal challenges.

“The first challenge was to do with the Equality Act and discrimination against sex. In the following Spring budget, the government said secondary schools could receive period products for free.

“Then we issued another challenge for discrimination against age so that they could be provided to primary schools as well.

“This policy change was much-needed and seeing the impact our work has had and what it’s led to has been amazing.

“Now we focus on raising awareness of the new scheme because priorities shifted during the pandemic, understandably, schools had a lot of other things to deal with and it may have been forgotten about.

“The numbers of sign-ups in Swindon could be better so I’d encourage schools to apply.”

Find out more and sign up to the government’s period product scheme at

Anna Miles added: “You don’t think about things like honours when you start a project like this, we were overjoyed. It’s a wonderful moment of recognition not just for us but the hundreds of volunteers in our team.

“Working with Clegg has been great. There was an inequality in the classroom which we helped address, all the hard work paid off, it’s an amazing thing.”

Helpforce works with hospitals and healthcare workers to increase the amount of volunteering opportunities available, provide support for hundreds of leaders organising these volunteers, and use these roles to improve the service provided to patients.

During the pandemic, the group’s work intensified and the volunteers they looked after helped to ease the immense pressure on NHS staff.

Mr Lever said: “The Covid pandemic and the response from volunteers and volunteering organisations has the potential to transform the volunteering landscape.

“We are incredibly grateful to our partners who are working with us to ensure the long-term future of volunteering in health.

“I am confident that our clarity of mission, what we intend to do, and how we will work with partners will increase volunteering opportunities and accelerate their impact.”

Several other people from wider Wiltshire have been honoured by Her Majesty in the birthday honours list.

Dr Christopher Timperley from Salisbury is a fellow for the Chemistry and Operational Readiness Group in the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. He was made an OBE for services to UK defence and security.

Allan MacDonald Bennett from Salisbury is the head of the Biosafety, Air and Water Microbiology Group at Public Health England, He received the same honour for services to microbiology in the Covid-19 response.

Anna Seaton of Chippenham was made an MBE for services to the environment and vulnerable communities.

Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust chair Kathryn Winrow was made an MBE for services to education, as was Louis Edwards of Corsham for services to defence and for voluntary service, and Peter McIntyre Lamont of Melksham for services to young people, as well as wildlife ranger Colin Elford of Salisbury for services to forestry.