OCCUPATIONAL health and safety expert Dr Vanessa Mayatt has received a royal accolade for her outstanding contribution to public and animal health.

Vanessa, from Norley, has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

She has held senior posts with the Health and Safety Executive, AXA/PPP Healthcare, been a Research Fellow at the University of Salford, and after establishing her own consultancy, advised public and private sector companies, including auditing of GP training provision with the Joint Committee on Training for General Practice.

She had no inkling that the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council had recommended her for an honour.

“When the letter arrived in April informing her that her name had been submitted she was speechless,” said Vanessa’s husband and business partner Phil.

Vanessa said: “It was such a surprise, I never expected it and it was such an honour to be recognised in this way, especially in the year of the celebrations for Her Majesty’s 90th birthday - I’m still absolutely delighted.”

The award presentation at Buckingham Palace will take place in the next six months, and Vanessa wants Phil to accompany her and if possible her brother Anthony, if he is able to return to the UK from his farm in Romania.

“She also hopes there may be a chance of seeing Rod Stewart, who has received a knighthood, and as she loves horses would really like to meet the jockey Hayley Turner, who was also awarded an OBE in this year’s Birthday Honours,” said Phil.

It is in the fields of public and animal health where Vanessa has made her greatest impact, first as a non-Executive Director of the Public Health and Laboratory Service then of the Health Protection Agency - now Public Health England.

During this period she made further contributions to the UK’s public health and beyond, working as a consultant for the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, which plays a major role in assuring the quality of biological medicines through providing biological reference materials by testing products and carrying out research.

She is chairman of the Research Committee of the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and a Trustee of animal virology research organization the Pirbright Institute, where she has used her expertise to ensure scrutiny and deliver the best Health and Safety and Biosafety (HSBS) advice in the Institute’s new laboratory complex.

She worked with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, which provides The Pirbright Institute’s Strategic Funding, to instigate a high level scrutiny of the management of HSBS.

She served on the scruntiny steering group, and has since headed up the Institute’s newly-established Risk and Assurance Committee to stengthen the arrangements to manage risk and HSBS.