Patron of Wheels for Martin’s Friends receives MBE

Rachel Furley, who recently became a patron of Wheels for Martin’s Friends, has received an MBE in this years honours list for her work with the children affected by the Chernobyl disaster.

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.” 

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.

“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.”

Rachel, who uses a wheelchair because of an inherited disorder, which affects her joints and a spinal cord injury, became a patron of Wheels for Martin’s Friends in 2015, a charity set up in memory of Martin Dellar, a teenager from Guilden Morden who needed a wheelchair. The charity was formed in 1989 and although Martin is no longer with us the charity went on to help many others and has raised over £300,000 since it began. It also helped Rachel with a racing wheelchair, which she used to raise further funds for the children of Chernobyl.