One of the driving forces behind Watford’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has saluted the “Hertfordshire heroes” he worked alongside after being recognised in the Queens’ Birthday Honours list.

Chris Luff has been awarded an MBE for his services to the community in Watford during the Covid-19 crisis.

The chief executive of Watford and West Herts Chamber of Commerce admitted he is “slightly embarrassed” and “humbled” to receive the honour and feels there are a host of other people worthy of similar recognition for the part they played in helping those in need.

Speaking to the Watford Observer earlier today, he said: “There are so many wonderful people that deserve it. I had such a great team of people around me at all times. Everyone deserves a mention, they’re all heroes – they are all Hertfordshire heroes and they are the ones that did the work.”

The Birthday Honours list was due to be published in June, but this was postponed in order to consider nominations for people playing a key role during the first months of the Covid response.

Mr Luff’s working life started with his father’s plumbing business, Reliance, but the majority of it has been spent in the communications technology sector after he co-founded a business in Watford named Freedom. This, coupled with voluntarily assisting NHS trusts and charities previously, meant he was able to utilise his numerous contacts and background to take a lead role in many initiatives in the area when the crisis began.

These included serving hundreds of meals to NHS staff primarily at Watford General Hospital, encouraging Watford FC to allow its stadium to be used for storing and preparing meals and other aid for charities, setting up a network of volunteer drivers as well as long being a champion for charitable causes in the area.

Mr Luff said: “When this all kicked off we tried to volunteer through the NHS portal and unfortunately it was over-subscribed or it was difficult.

“I teamed up with cousin, who is an ex-Royal Marine and he was a major and significant part of all that we were doing.”

Mr Luff’s cousin is Matt Johnson, who is normally employed as a senior special effects supervisor in the film industry, but his background in the Marines means “he’s excellent at logistics”.

“It was a great opportunity for us to work together and we thoroughly enjoyed it,” Mr Luff said. “My whole point around doing this stuff is it’s enjoyable and if there’s one thing that’s come out of this Covid situation it is we’ve connected a lot of people together through need and long may it continue.”

The 56-year-old only found out he was receiving the MBE last week and admitted: “I was incredibly shocked. It was lovely, but I’m really pleased for my mum. She’ll be delighted.”

Asked if he had found it difficult to keep the news to himself, he replied: “Not really, that’s the way it is. I was asked not to say anything so I haven’t.”

This year has been difficult for so many people but it has also brought out the best in many of us. It is this community spirit and willingness to help those less fortunate that is Mr Luff’s standout memory from all the initiatives he has, and is still, involved with.

He said: “The generosity of people, not just with their money but with their time. It’s been a wonderful thing.

“People genuinely really want to help and they don’t want anything for it, they just want to contribute. That’s been the huge highlight.

“It’s wonderful so many people have got involved throughout Watford and it just proves Watford is a great town.”