Aylesbury prison volunteer recognised in New Years Honours list for 'endless' suicide prevention support

She has been supporting people through her charity work for over two decades
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A Bucks woman has been recognised in the 2022 New Year's Honours List for her 'endless' voluntary support at HMP Aylesbury.

Gillian Owen-Conway, 72, was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her work at two national charities, which included supporting suicide prevention causes at the prison.

As well as assisting prisoners, Gillian has supported bereaved families and helped others in need, working for charities for over two decades.

Gillian Owen-Conway BEMGillian Owen-Conway BEM
Gillian Owen-Conway BEM

When working for Samaritans, the national emotional support organisation, Gillian helped develop a listener scheme with the American organisation, Ayo.

They aimed to create a scheme similar to the one that's used in America, training prisoners to listen to one another.

Gillian, and a team of volunteers, from Samaritans helped inmates to listen to others with suicidal tendencies and thoughts.

This scheme originated in the USA and has been widely rolled out within the UK prison system since.

Gillian, from Great Missenden, was praised for her 'endless' dedication to charities, including her current work for DrugFam, which is based in Bucks

She has worked with the charity for eight years, first in a voluntary role, before transitioning into a paid position in the company in 2019.

Previously, she was with the Samaritans between 2000 and 2013, she was voted into the role of branch director for three of those years.

At DrugFam, she works alongside founder, Elizabeth Burton-Phillips MBE, she organises support groups and an annual conference, as well as email and telephone support for bereaved families.

Gillian told the Bucks Herald: "During the pandemic, the work of supporting the recently bereaved has escalated, but via zoom we supported clients all over Great Britain.

"I work with a team of highly-trained family support workers who look after those coping with active addiction.

"DrugFam was founded after Elizabeth lost a twin son to heroin addiction after finding there was little or no support for families dealing with a similar issue. Her book, “Mum can you lend me 20 quid", has been made into a play which has visited prisons and schools. It has also been translated into various languages."

Drugfam provides a safe and confidential environment for people to talk and ask for support.

A government spokesperson said: "She has devoted endless hours voluntarily to those who have felt suicidal and who have contacted Samaritans and to families of the bereaved people

through addiction.

"Since the start of the pandemic, they have begun working with 220 newly bereaved families. Moreover, she single-handedly runs the volunteer rota for the phone helpline at DrugFam, ensuring that it is fully manned providing a regular 9am to 9pm service."

"Additionally, she facilitates the High Wycombe group which involves supporting clients’ day in and day out."

Further details on Gillian's charity can be found on its website here.

In total awards, were given to 32 Bucks residents including one knighthood.

Nominations can be made for future awardees on the government website here.

Countess Elizabeth Howe, Lord-Lieutenant of Bucks said: “I offer my sincere and heartfelt congratulations to those Buckinghamshire residents who have been honoured with an award in the New Year Honours 2022.

“We all know that the world has been in turmoil, indeed none can escape the daily headlines, but despite being faced with enormous adversity, people in our communities have stepped up to deliver a whole range of Covid-19 related activity. In the wider context individuals have continued to achieve extraordinary things.

"In this county, service in fields ranging from the film industry, cyber security, education, business and sport, to support for young people, victims of domestic violence, burn injuries and disfigurement, the inclusion of women and diversity, and those with visual impairment has been absolutely exemplary.

"Tireless commitment, energy and sacrifice has been the hallmark of their work and they have made a significant difference to the lives of others.

“I proudly applaud the achievements of our honours recipients and thank them for their dedication. Their example is an inspiration to us all and they are richly deserving of this distinction.

“There are many unsung heroes in our midst so could I encourage you to consider nominating someone for a national honour. The Lieutenancy office can offer you guidance on how to do this.”


-Mr Jan Petrus Du Plessis: Executive Chairman, BT Group. For services to Telecommunications and Business

Order of the British Empire

Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)

-Mr Martin John Coles: Chief Executive, Marine Society and Sea, Cadets. For services to Young People and Maritime Education

-Mr Tanweer Ikram: Deputy Senior District Judge, Magistrates Court. For services to Judicial Diversity

-Mrs Louise Anne Kingham OBE: lately Chief Executive, Energy Institute. For services to the Energy Industry

Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)

-Mrs Drusilla Maizey: Chair, NHS Business Services Authority. For services to the NHS

-Mrs Lynne Elizabeth Morris JP: Chief Executive Officer, The Toybox Charity. For services to Children in the UK and Abroad

-Mr Andrew Mark Smith: Director, Corporate Affairs, Pinewood Group Limited and Chair, Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership. For services to Business and the British Film Industry

-Mrs Kate Elizabeth Sutton (Katie Piper): Founder, The Katie Piper Foundation. For services to charity and Victims of Burns and other Disfigurement Injuries

Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)

-Mr Matthew James Baker: Trustee, Children in Need. For charitable and voluntary services to Fundraising

-Dr Baljinder Singh Dhanda: Co-Chair, UK Cyber Security Council Formation Project. For services to Cyber Security

-Mr Ian Martin Elgeti: Forensic Manager, Thames Valley Police. For Services to Policing

-Mr William John Griffiths: Director, Milton Keynes Museum. For services to Museums and to the community in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire

-Mrs Marilyn Hubbard: Chair of Trustees, Inspiring Futures through Learning Multi-Academy Trust, Milton Keynes. For services to Education

-Mrs Emma Ruth Lindley: Co-Founder, Women in Identity. For services to promoting Diversity and Inclusion in the Digital Identity Sector in the UK and Abroad

-Mr Christopher Mark Moore: Vice-Chair, Bletchley Park Trust and Chair, FightforSight. For charitable and voluntary services to Heritage and to Visually Impaired People

-Mr Simon Christopher Aidan Morton: Deputy Chief Executive Officer, UK Sport. For services to Sport

-Mr Ransford George Stewart: Director, Stewart Management and Planning Solutions. For services to Planning

-Mrs Andrea Vincent: Chair MK-Act, Milton Keynes. For services to Victims of Domestic Abuse

-Dr Norman Allan Waterman: For services to Materials, Manufacturing and Nuclear Engineering

-Mr Peter John Wilson: Trustee, Milton Keynes Special Needs Advancement Project. For services to People with Educational Disabilities

Medallists of the Order of the British Empire (BEM)

-Mrs Joanna Hilary Anderson: For services to the community in Winslow, Buckinghamshire particularly during Covid-19

-Mr Terence Michael Bromilow: Chair, Marshall Milton Keynes Athletics Club. For services to Athletics in Buckinghamshire

-Mr Christopher William Gibson Brown: For services to the community in Cholesbury-cum-St Leonards, Buckinghamshire, particularly during Covid-19

-Mr Hamaad Ali Karim: Student Mentor. For voluntary service to Students and the Wider Community during Covid-19

-Mrs Rosemary Virginia O'Hagan: For services to the community in Bourne End and Wooburn, Buckinghamshire during Covid-19

-Mrs Carol Mary Lister: For services to the community in Cheddington, Buckinghamshire particularly during Covid-19

-Mrs Gillian Margaret Owen-Conway: For services to the community in Buckinghamshire

-Mr Vinodkumar Mashri Jeram Pankhania: For services to the community in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire

-Mrs Ruth Panther: For services to the community in Great Linford, Milton Keynes during Covid-19

-Mr Mark Ian Rann: For services to the community in Chesham, Buckinghamshire during Covid-19

-Mrs Khadijah Safari: Chief Executive Officer, Safari MMA. For services to Inclusion and Diversity in Martial Arts

-Mrs Pamela Susan Gail Steed: For services to the community in Cheddington, Buckinghamshire particularly during Covid-19

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