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Chris Townsend OBE to spearhead Government initiative to shield the clinically vulnerable

Former Commercial Director of the London Olympics, alumnus Chris Townsend OBE, has volunteered to lead a cross-government effort to protect those at the highest risk from COVID-19.

Chris Townsend graduated with a degree in Geography from Newcastle University in 1997, first becoming a Management Trainee at EMI Records. Over a decade later, Chris was part of the successful London 2012 Olympic bid team as Marketing Director at Transport for London, going on to become Commercial Director for the London Olympics. He received an OBE for his services to the Olympic and Paralympic games in 2013.

Now, Chris Townsend is leaving his current role as Commercial Director at Chelsea Football Club for three months to lead the Government’s Shielding Programme as Chief Executive Officer. In this voluntary position, he will oversee delivery of vital food and medicine to the clinically vulnerable across England. This category is made up of an estimated 1.5 million people in the UK who have been advised to shield themselves from exposure to COVID-19, by staying in strict isolation.

Around 250,000 boxes of food has been delivered to those at highest risk from the disease, and the Government has pledged that hundreds of thousands more will follow in the coming weeks.

Chris Townsend said: “I am proud to lead the Government’s Shielding Programme and determined to do all I can to ensure that those most at risk get the support they need. This is a top priority and I call on everyone to remember the important role they have to play in stopping the spread of coronavirus and to shield those most at risk.”


For more information, visit the UK government’s guidance page on shielding and protecting the medically vulnerable.

Are you alumni working to combat COVID-19, or do you have an alumni story you want to share? Email us at advancement@ncl.ac.uk.

published on: 4 May 2020