Former WaterAid chief executive receives damehood
Barbara Frost, WaterAid’s former Chief Executive, was invested today at Buckingham Palace as a Dame Commander of the British Empire by HRH The Prince of Wales, for exceptional services to the provision of safe water, sanitation and hygiene in developing countries.
Dame Barbara was Chief Executive of WaterAid from 2005 until her retirement in May 2017. In that time, the organisation greatly expanded its work and impact to cover 34 countries, and trebled its annual income to over £85 million.
The citation in the Queen’s Birthday Honours read:
"Barbara Frost is honoured for her work, commitment and leadership in making the world a better place through the provision of safe water, hygiene and sanitation. Over the past 12 years as Chief Executive of WaterAid she has led the development of the charity to further raise the importance and profile of water, hygiene and sanitation in the aid and development sectors both nationally and internationally. Originally established by the UK water industry, WaterAid is now a global charity with strong UK wide support. With Barbara’s inspirational leadership it has seen lives transformed and has become recognised worldwide as a trusted name."
WaterAid’s current Chief Executive Tim Wainwright said: “Barbara has been a tireless champion of the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene in alleviating poverty, taking her inspiration from people that she met through WaterAid’s work. WaterAid is the successful organisation it is today in large part because of Barbara’s vision and drive; she has helped to build an organisation with strong values and a real sense of community. Everyone at WaterAid is thrilled that Barbara’s passion and commitment over the years has been so highly recognised.”
Access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene protects children from potentially fatal waterborne diseases, releases women and girls to realise their potential, and helps communities escape extreme poverty and enjoy good health and productivity.
Dame Barbara said: “Being appointed a Dame is a great privilege. I am so very proud of the WaterAid team who are tireless in their efforts to contribute to that big vision to end extreme poverty and to ensure a world where everyone, everywhere has access to water and sanitation. The ongoing commitment of our founders in the water industry and of the many WaterAid supporters to our work is humbling.”
Dame Barbara resolutely focused on the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene as the cornerstone of development, and campaigned for this at the United Nations and with governments around the world. She played a pivotal role in the creation of WaterAid International as a global presence with operations in Africa, Asia, the Pacific and Latin America supported by offices in the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Sweden, Canada and Japan.
Dame Barbara lived in Batcombe in Somerset as a child. After university she moved to Australia where she worked with the federal and state governments, as well as with the voluntary and community sector, before moving to Mozambique with Oxfam Australia. She worked with Oxfam, Save the Children and Action Aid in Mozambique and later with ActionAid in Malawi.
She then returned to the UK to become Chief Executive of Action on Disability and Development based in Frome in Somerset, an international development agency working with disabled people’s organisations in Africa and Asia to assist them to claim their rights and improvements in living standards, a post she held until her move to WaterAid.
Dame Barbara lives with her husband, Keith Smith, in Trudoxhill, near Frome. She also holds Honorary Doctorates from Exeter and Cranfield universities and was awarded the Daniel Phelan Award for Outstanding Achievement in the voluntary sector in 2015.