THIS week (June 1 - June 7) marks Volunteers Week in the UK and a Penarth volunteer has spoken of her work which earned her a prestigious medal.

Dr Debbie Lamont is a senior lecturer at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Three years ago, she joined the British Red Cross as a volunteer as she said she enjoys helping others.

The Red Cross is part of a global voluntary network that helps people in crisis whoever and wherever they are.

In the early hours of June 14 last year, a fire broke out at the 24-storey Grenfell Tower block of flats in West London. It caused at least 72 deaths and many injuries.

As part of the Grenfell Fire Response Team, the British Red Cross reached out to all its staff and volunteers.

Dr Lamont volunteered, and she was there within hours, working as part of the emergency response team helping to coordinate a 24-hour relief effort providing support to those directly affected and the wider communities including rescue centres and safe spaces, a telephone support line, help at home, and outreach work in the local community.

As the one-year anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire approaches, Dr Lamont recalls her experiences from last June.

She said: “Nothing could prepare me for such an event and what faced me. The atmosphere was very intense and chaotic. Amongst it, people were emotionally exhausted and utterly lost.

"My role was to provide them with practical and emotional support – guiding them to the right help, listening to them, providing a calming ear and a supportive shoulder. It was an emotionally challenging experience and very grounding.

"Although I am unlikely to forget the scenes I witnessed or the stories I heard, I would offer my help again in a heartbeat.”

Dr Lamont received the Henry Dunant Medal for her contribution to the relief effort at Grenfell Tower. This the highest honour the Red Cross movement can give one of its members, recognising and rewarding the effort and dedication of staff and volunteers who go to exceptional lengths.

“I was so honoured to receive the Award, and I am exceptionally proud to be part of the Red Cross movement," said Dr Lamont.

If you are inspired by Dr Lamont's story and want to find out more information about the many volunteering roles available in the UK, visit: