Birthday honours: Queen recognises the work of three physios and AHP lead for England

Three physiotherapists and England’s lead allied health professions officer received recognition in the Queen’s 2019 birthday honours list.

Suzanne Rastrick received an OBE

Suzanne Rastrick (OBE)

Suzanne Rastrick, the NHS’s chief allied health professions officer for England, was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to allied health professionals

Ms Rastrick qualified as an occupational therapist in 1986 and worked in hospitals, primary care and community services before she took on leadership roles at a local and national level.

In a previous interview with Frontline Ms Rastrick highlighted the importance of collecting data and said providing evidence to demonstrate the clinical effectiveness of physiotherapy was vital.  

Ann Thomson (MBE)

CSP Fellow Ann Thomson received an MBE

CSP fellow Ann Thomson, a physiotherapy teacher and the chair of Extend Exercise Training Ltd, was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for her services to physiotherapy education and disabled people through swimming exercise.

She told Frontline: ‘I am very honoured, excited and astonished. It is great that physiotherapy keeps being mentioned in the national honours awards.

‘During my 60 odd years in physiotherapy I have been very lucky to have met some wonderful people who have helped to give me opportunities to contribute to physiotherapy and I share this honour with them.

Miss Thomson qualified in 1960, from the School of Physiotherapy in the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh, before going on to qualify as physiotherapy teacher in 1964 from St Mary’s Hospital School of Physiotherapy in London.

Her career in physiotherapy went on to centre on providing education at the Middlesex Hospital School of Physiotherapy and University College London (UCL). 

‘I was director of postgraduate physiotherapy at UCL until 2008,’ she explains.

‘Then I went to Kings College London, where I still teach the postgraduate master students soft tissue therapy. 

‘I am also an education adviser for the Aquatic Therapy Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (ATACP) and minutes secretary for the Members' Benevolent Fund (MBF) and am very proud to be a fellow of the CSP and the Musculoskeletal Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (MACP).

My special interests are musculoskeletal - especially manipulation and soft tissue therapy with therapeutic exercise -  and aquatic therapy.

‘And my physiotherapy experience also proves useful in the charity work I do with the Halliwick Association of Swimming Therapy, BackCare and EXTEND - exercise for older people.’

Miss Thomson added that she enjoys meeting friends and keeping up with physiotherapy advances at ARC, PTUK and WCPT congresses.

‘It is very important that physiotherapists attend these events and other CSP activities to ensure that our profession is up to date whilst still retaining our core values of skilful treatment for patients.

Catherine McIlroy (MBE)

Catherine McIlroy at a rural mission hospital in Ghana, where she spent 10 days offering support

Catherine McIlroy, allied health professional manager for acute services at Southern Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland, was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for her services to physiotherapy.

She told Frontline: ‘It’s a tremendous honour and I feel very humbled to have been given this accolade, which I feel I’ve received on behalf of the whole physiotherapy profession, as well on behalf of my AHP colleagues as well

‘I’ve had a very long and happy career in the world of physiotherapy and it’s wonderful to have received such recognition.’

Ms McIlroy has been in her current post for ten years and previously spent 20 years managing physiotherapy services for Armagh & Dungannon Health & Social Services Trust.

‘I started as a junior rotational therapist back in 1982,’ she recalls.

‘Then I moved into working in care of the elderly and became the Northern Ireland rep for the care of the elderly CSP clinical interest group [now known as Agile] for several years, and also chaired the Northern Ireland board on a couple of occasions.’

Commenting on how the healthcare profession has changed during her career Ms McIlroy said: ‘In the past there were posts that would have only been advertised for nursing or social work, but now they have opened up to allied health professionals as well, which is terrific.

The profile of therapists has very much come to the fore in recent years. We are now considered an integral part of hospital services, not an expensive luxury.


‘And now it’s recognised that we are a core part of maintaining hospital services and maintaining patient flow, and that’s been a tremendous development for physiotherapy, as well as the other therapies I’m involved with.’

Ms McIlroy added that she has a long running interest in healthcare in the developing world and has spent time abroad visiting various facilities and offering support.

Christine Hughes (BEM)

Christine Hughes received an MBE

Christine Hughes, a band 6 physio for learning disabilities in Wrexham, North Wales, received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her services to people with learning disabilities.

She told Frontline: ‘It’s safe to say that I was totally shocked when I found out about the award -  but delighted that an honour has come to someone working with adults with learning disabilities.

'It has been a privilege to work with so many people in the service, as well as the service users themselves.

'And I will be even more delighted if it raises the profile of people with learning disabilities and additional physical and complex needs.

Ms Hughes moved from Liverpool to Stoke-on-Trent in 1982 because she wanted to try something different, after working in a general hospital.

'I moved to the learning disabilities team in Wrexham in 1996 and I still feel that I am learning.

‘I retired from my full-time post in 2014 and came back to work two days a week, working mainly with the speech and language therapist, assessing and advising about positioning for people with dysphagia.

‘Now I work one day a week to support the Band 4 technical instructor doing assessments and care plans and working with the adult learning disabilities team.’


Christine Hughes at her retirement party in Wrexham earlier this year

 Author: Robert Millett

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