Major Andrew Todd, of the Royal Gurkha Rifles, who helped rescue climbers from Mount Everest following a massive earthquake in Nepal in April 2015 is to be recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list with an MBE it has been announced today.
Major Todd, aged 36, was deputy leader of the G200 Everest Expedition, the attempt to put the first serving Gurkha on the summit to mark the 200th year of Gurkha service to the Crown, when the quake struck on 25 April causing an avalanche on the mountain which killed 22 climbers.
Canterbury-born Major Todd and his fellow Gurkhas, many of whom had families in devastated regions, stayed to help rescue people from the mountain and help the clean-up operation. He said: “What we did was no different from what any soldier would have done. We stayed because we are British soldiers and that’s what they do. We had a duty to do what we did.”
On learning of his award, Major Todd, who is currently Second-in-Command of 2nd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles in Folkestone, said: “Genuinely I’m staggered by this. It’s the biggest thing that has happened in my life since the earthquake.
“You think of the people who have gone before, who’ve been given the same award and part of me thinks that they’re such great people; I never really see myself in their shoes at all. So to have been given the same recognition feels like quite a responsibility. I am delighted.”
After two nights and three days, Major Todd was instrumental in evacuating all 116 climbers and Sherpas to the safety of the Base Camp from Camp 1 in a limited 5-hour weather window. Fortunately nobody in their team was badly injured.
In the weeks following the earthquake Major Todd, who has served three tours of Afghanistan, co-ordinated the team in providing medical support and emergency relief to the villages along their route as they trekked back to Kathmandu and supported the UK relief effort.
His citation states: “Throughout the immediate aftermath, and the ensuing weeks, he displayed outstanding leadership in adversity.”
Major Todd was also recognised with a ‘Millie’ in the public-nominated Sun Military Awards for outstanding soldiering in January 2016. He has summited some of the world’s highest peaks in the USA, Europe and Nepal.
The keen mountaineer and Plymouth University graduate said: “When you’re really pushing yourself on the hard peaks, on the much harder climbs, you push yourself to be scared and I’ve been in places where I’ve been really, really scared. But what you develop is the coping strategy; you develop courage by exposing yourself to that fear, and that really does help you with your career.
“It helps you with both the day-to-day running of difficult things when you’re nervous and scared, but also when you’re in the face of operational tours where it’s really hard. You’ve developed a coping strategy to cope with fear.
“For me, it’s escapism. When you’re up there with the great vistas of the Alps, or in America or any mountain range, you feel so insignificant. When you get caught up in the business of life it’s really nice to have something like that to reflect on. It’s also the achievement of getting to some of these peaks, particularly if the weather or the odds are against you.”
Major Todd’s citation covers the period from July 2011 to June 2015.
The announcement was made today with the release of the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours list which recognises the achievements of individuals, both civilian and military, whose contribution to British Society warrants special recognition.
Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) recognises a significant achievement or outstanding service to the community.