Queen's birthday honours for local councillor, nurse consultant and school governor

Date published: 11 June 2021

A selection of incredible people from the Rochdale borough including a local councillor who helped expose the Rochdale grooming gang, a nurse consultant, and a school governor have been named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours Lists 2021.

Recognising the outstanding achievements and services of people across the United Kingdom from all backgrounds, three people from the Rochdale borough have been honoured this year: Councillor Sara Rowbotham (MBE), Claire Chadwick (MBE) and Eric Crompton Barber (BEM).

Councillor Sara Rowbotham, 54, deputy leader of Rochdale Borough Council, and former health worker who helped expose the grooming ring has been named a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for services to young people.

On her award, Councillor Rowbotham said: “I'm really pleased to receive this award; I think it would have made my mum really proud. I didn't ever work alone I was part of an incredible team. I'm glad we were able to raise awareness and hopefully contribute to the future safeguarding of children and young people.”

Councillor Rowbotham has served as deputy leader of Rochdale Borough Council since 2018, and was first elected to represent North Middleton in 2015, following in the footsteps of her late mother Maureen Rowbotham who was a Middleton councillor for more than a decade. She is also the Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Sustainability.

Between 2004 and 2014, Councillor Rowbotham worked for the Rochdale Crisis Intervention Team for the NHS, which is when she uncovered the Rochdale child sex abuse ring and helped bring the perpetrators to court.

As a front line sexual health worker, who led the NHS crisis team, she made 181 referrals detailing the abuse and sexual grooming of young people between 2005 and 2011.

In 2013, Councillor Rowbotham told the Home Affairs Select Committee her bosses had ignored scores of warnings that girls were being groomed and sexually exploited; she was made redundant in 2014.

She was portrayed in Three Girls, a BBC mini-series about the Rochdale child sex abuse ring, by actress Maxine Peake. Following the screening in mid-May 2017, a petition was started at Change.org calling for the councillor to be formally recognised for her services to Rochdale community. By late May, it had gathered more than 275,000 signatures.


Councillor Rowbotham received a Special Recognition at the 2018 NHS Heroes Awards, and was made an honorary member of the Council of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) in October 2018.

The Leader of Rochdale Borough Council, Councillor Neil Emmott said: “Congratulations to Councillor Rowbotham who has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services, as recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

“After years of hard work and dedication, I am so pleased you have finally landed this coveted position that you very much deserve. You are an inspiration to all of us. Congratulations for your success.”

Claire Chadwick, 57, of Rochdale, is a Nurse Consultant in Infection Prevention and Control at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. She has been named a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for services to the NHS during Covid-19.


Claire Chadwick
Claire Chadwick


Mrs Chadwick was quick to recognise the impact the forthcoming pandemic would have on Bradford, an area with a high ethnic mix which consequently brought many challenges and a high number of cases.

She helped to set up the ‘pods’ for suspected cases, worked in the Emergency Department alongside the doctors and nurses on the frontline and then as cases grew, she supported early recognition of cases in the wards.

Mrs Chadwick set up and supported additional Covid wards and was instrumental in assessing and mitigating the many risks associated with caring for these patients, and dealt with severe shortages of personal protective equipment, making sure her staff safety was maintained.

In her national role as Honorary Treasurer of the Infection Prevention Society, Mrs Chadwick supported the development of additional guidance to support infection prevention staff.

Mrs Chadwick also worked with the British Cochlear Implant Society to develop guidelines to help deaf people who find communication difficult when people are wearing masks. She volunteered and is working with NHS Supply Chain to source and procure national stocks of PPE going forward. This is being done in her own time on top of her still very busy day job.

Mrs Chadwick admitted she was still in shock at receiving the news but relieved she could now share it.

“I have known about this for about four weeks and I’ve had to keep it a secret, which has been really difficult.” 

The nurse consultant said she couldn’t even share her news with husband Paul, a consultant microbiologist, or the rest of the family, friends or colleagues.

Eric Crompton Barber, 82, governor at Elm Wood Primary School in Middleton has been granted The British Empire Medal (BEM), for services to education.

For 26 years, Mr Barber has made a profound impact on thousands of children in Rochdale, especially those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), and sacrificed family time to serve as chair/vice chair of governors of the Ofsted rated ‘Good’ Elm Wood School.

He has given countless hours of unwaveringly but informed support to help lead the school located in one of the most deprived and challenging areas in Greater Manchester, where 12% of the pupils are registered as having SEND, and the proportion of disadvantaged pupils is above average (17.5%).

As chair and link governor for SEND, Mr Barber has wisely used his business management skills to deploy financial resources amongst all pupils, but especially those with SEND.

The headteacher praised him as a ‘significant figure’ in leading the development of the historic and challenging school building to fully meet the needs of the children. This transformation added extra classrooms, an envied outdoor area, with a wooded area, outdoor classroom, and forest school development to provide an oasis for the pupils.

Whilst involved with the school, Mr Barber also helped teachers set up a registered children’s charity, Leisure for Autism, which provides play schemes for children with Autistic Spectrum Condition, and also served as chair of trustees.

During Covid-19, Mr Barber’s commitment to the school overruled concerns for his own health and, despite having to shield, he attended the school physically to meet with school leaders. He ensured all risk assessments were aligned with government guidelines and challenged any perceived risks which could hinder a smooth reopening.

The honours list, published twice a year, consists of knights and dames, appointments to the Order of the British Empire and gallantry awards to servicemen and women, and civilians.

The ranks of appointment to the Order are Commander (CBE), Officer (OBE) and Member (MBE).

British Empire Medals are also awarded to community volunteers for meritorious civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Crown. The current honour was created in 1922 to replace the original medal, which had been established in 1917 as part of the Order of the British Empire.

Anyone can nominate someone for a Queen's birthday honour, as long as they are still actively involved in what you’re nominating them for.

Whether someone gets an honour – and the honour they get – is decided by an honours committee, whose recommendations go to the Prime Minister and then to the Queen, who awards the honour.

Rochdale MP Tony Lloyd also received a knighthood for his parliamentary services in the Queen’s birthday honours this year.


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