Andy Hedley-Smith poses with the Larry Heintz Safety Award
Photo: Emily Davies

The Larry Heintz Safety Award 2022 has been awarded to Andy Hedley-Smith for his contribution to the safety of MAF staff during the Covid-19 pandemic

Andy joined MAF International in November 2017 as the International Security Manager, having previously worked for 30 years as a police officer in the UK and overseas, bringing extensive experience of international security.

The award committee recognised his work in raising the issue of Covid-19 at an early stage and pro-actively researching and providing guidance and leadership to the organisation in its response. Andy gave counsel to the Crisis Management Team and helped develop the Covid-19 Management Plan.

A shocked Andy was presented with the award in front of colleagues at the Ashford support office, with MAF leaders from the International Managers Conference joining the occasion online from Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Geoff Hillier, Director of Quality, Safety & Security, shared the award citation which described Andy’s efforts during the pandemic.

“In early 2020 when the Covid-19 virus was first identified, Andy raised the potential for harm to MAF International and began to monitor daily the cases and spread. His timely action and persistent monitoring were of great benefit to MAFI as we developed our plans and prepared for the pandemic’s effects across the MAF world,” he said. 

“His work with MAF has included advising staff on travel, organising HEAT and other security training courses and advising programmes on security matters.  He has led the project for improved stretchers in MAFI aircraft and developed the medevac standards. He has also carried out investigations following security events. Andy’s commitment to high standards and his extensive experience has benefitted MAF greatly.”

MAF pilot tests a passenger's temperature before boarding a MAF flight
Photo: Todd Aebischer

Andy is married to Georgina and has four children. When Andy isn’t making us all safer, he enjoys kayaking and woodworking. Andy can often be heard saying phrases such as “Don’t change the plan” and “good drills!”.

Andy was bowled over by the outpouring of support when the award was presented.

“I feel hugely honoured to have been presented with the 2022 Larry Heintz Safety Award for my contribution to the safety of MAF staff through my work during the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

“Throughout the pandemic MAF has sought to maintain its mission to bring help, hope and healing through aviation. It was this mission that was at the forefront of MAF’s response to Covid-19 and it was great to be able to bring some of my crisis management skills to support MAF at that challenging time.”

A message of congratulations from Larry Heintz's widow Jane was read to Andy at the presentation.

“The award is very well deserved, as demonstrated by the exemplary foresight you exhibited early in 2020 when you raised the potential for harm to MAF International staff from Covid-19. Your foresight was additionally demonstrated by the way that you proactively researched and monitored the virus, and then provided leadership to the organisation in response to this,” she wrote.

“Your proactivity in areas such as leading new projects, for example the new stretchers for MAFI aircraft, and developing the new medevac standards, are examples of your commitment and dedication to safety and the welfare of others.

“Your extensive past experience, together with your skills and high standards are making an enormous impact in keeping MAFI operating safely throughout the world. May the Lord continue to bless you in all that you do.”

Andy would be the first to recognise all the MAFI staff who worked diligently and sacrificially throughout the pandemic. It is through the courage of our staff and the wise guidance of people such as Andy that we came through the pandemic, still serving those that God has called us to.

The Larry Heintz Award is given in memory of Larry Heintz, who made a significant contribution to safety in MAF, once receiving a Humanitarian Aviation Recognition award from the UN for his outstanding contribution towards humanitarian aviation activities and promoting aviation safety throughout humanitarian air operations. The Larry Heintz Award is given to anyone within the MAF family who has gone above and beyond in contributing to safe operations in MAF.