Fresh produce pandemic hero awarded MBE for outstanding service

A port operations director from Grimsby has been awarded the MBE for outstanding services during the coronavirus pandemic.

Steve Williams, operations director for Portico in Portsomouth, who has been awarded the MBE. (Image: Paul Gonella/Strong Island)

Steve Williams heads up the international cargo terminal in Portsmouth, a major entry point to the UK for fresh produce.


At the height of the pandemic he stayed more than 250 miles away from his family for three months, even refreshing his crane operating qualifications to pitch in during staff shortages.

Portico, as the south coast facility is known, remained open 24/7 ensuring supermarkets remained stocked. 


The 59-year-old said: “I am very shocked, humbled and proud. I have spent over 34 years in the industry, supported throughout by my beautiful wife, so this honour is recognition for us both.


“No honour would be received without the support of your co-workers, and I am proud that the industry is recognised as key workers, supporting the country through these very difficult times.


“Although it was a difficult decision to remain in Portsmouth, away from my family with no end date, being on site at Portico was my duty. It was a privilege to support the team in any way I could help, for as long as it was needed.”  


A former senior figure at ABP in Immingham, having held the head of operations role and been general manager at Humber International Terminal, he ensured there was a functioning workforce to manage the regular arrivals of thousands of pallets and containers of goods from around the world, a task made harder when staff presented with symptoms.


It led to him returning to the crane cab to play a hands-on roll.


Mike Sellers, Portico director and another former Immingham senior manager, said: “Steve would be too modest to discuss any of his efforts, praising his management team and also staff for all stepping up. However it’s because he led by example that everyone at Portico was inspired to continue working hard.


“Steve stepped into a range of positions, helping in warehouses and unloading ships, clocking up long hours and visiting the site daily to help staff morale.


“If that wasn’t tough enough, it was against the backdrop of being away from his family, especially his wife who was alone in Lincolnshire.


“I want to thank Steve for the selfless part he played making sure vital goods kept moving to where they were needed most.”


Source: Business Live