A CIVILIAN who helped tell the world of the devastation caused by deadly typhoon has received a top navy award for her efforts.
Samantha Chapman, a Royal Navy press officer based on Whale Island, was on the Portsmouth-based warship HMS Daring in 2013 when Typhoon Haiyan struck.
The 34-year-old found herself at the centre of the UK’s aid relief effort in the Philippines, which had been battered by a cyclone that killed more than 6,300 people.
Samantha, a former regional journalist, volunteered to stay on board the ship as the media officer and stayed there until HMS Illustrious arrived three weeks later which she joined to continue to report about the crisis.
Samantha said: ‘My time on HMS Daring for Op Patwin was a test of everything I know – professionally as a PR expert and journalist – but also as a human being by witnessing what these people had lived through and the fact they were still smiling and welcoming us.
For her efforts she was presented with the Chief of Joint Operations Commendation by Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Sir Philip Jones.
Her citation read: ‘She was invaluable is providing a positive profile of the UK’s assistance during this crisis in a manner that exemplified her professionalism and passion for the Royal Navy, the Ministry of Defence and the UK government.’
Sam is married to Liam Flatt – a lieutenant in the Royal Navy.
He was on board HMS Illustrious when she sailed to the Philippines and Sam was able to briefly be reunited with him before flying home three days later.
Samantha added she was both ‘proud’ and ‘honoured to have received the accolade.
‘To be able to tell the story of the kindness and strength of my naval colleagues in their hour of need was an honour and an unforgettable experience,’ she said.
A total of 37 people received awards during a ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Base,
Samantha was the only civilian to receive an accolade during the ceremony.