A Birmingham City University nursing student has been recognised for his dedication to his chosen career path in the latest Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Alex Griffiths, a second-year student on the University’s MSci Adult and Child Nursing degree, has been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to the NHS and community in the West Midlands during the Covid pandemic.

The 22-year-old from Wordsley in Stourbridge was one of five people from the region to be granted the award, which was announced by the West Midlands Lieutenancy last week.

He originally undertook a Clinical Support Worker apprenticeship at Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley, before pursuing his ambition to become a nurse. He is still on the staff bank at Russells Hall, and works there as and when he can, combining these shifts with his studies, which have also included practical placements at City Hospital, Birmingham.

Alex, who lives in Brierley Hill in the Black Country, also volunteers as a presenter and senior producer at both Black Country Radio and the University’s own student union led broadcaster, Scratch Radio. He balances his education, which also includes a role as a nursing school representative, his work at Russells Hall and his extra-curricular activities with caring responsibilities for his mother who has multiple sclerosis.

Speaking of his award, he said: “I’ve actually no idea who nominated me, but I’m obviously flattered and very proud to be the recipient of a British Empire Medal.

“But to be honest, I’m just doing what I love to do. As cheesy as it sounds, I firmly believe I was put on earth to care – although I never thought I’d receive official recognition for this!

“When I was growing up, I wanted to be a doctor, so I think I always had this desire to help others. But I when I began working at Russells Hall, I saw first-hand the day-to-day critical and intensive care that nurses provided and the relationships they developed with their patients as a result. Being a ‘people person’ that really appealed to me, and I knew then that nursing was for me.”

With a history dating back over 100 years, the British Empire Medal is awarded to those who perform commendable civil or military service, with holders entitled to use the official designation of ‘BEM’ after their name. Although medals are awarded by the Lord Lieutenant of their county rather than the monarch, recipients are invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace to mark their achievement.

Alex attended a reception at Lancaster House in London last week when the medal awardees were announced and, despite his busy schedule, he is determined to make time to attend the official celebration at the royal residence in the capital, which will take place later this year.

“I may well have to rearrange my diary,” he added. “That might mean moving some of my shifts at the hospital around or skipping one of my radio shows, but I’m used to juggling things and whatever it takes I plan to be there. There’s no way I’m missing out on a party at the palace!”

Professor Carol Doyle, Head of School of Nursing and Midwifery at Birmingham City University, said: “We are exceptionally proud of Alex. He has demonstrated the attributes of an inspiring BCU nurse, through dedication to his studies and voluntary activities, and through the care and compassion clearly displayed in placement, through his work in a clinical support role and within his home life. Award of the British Empire Medal is phenomenal recognition of Alex’s contributions to society.”