MBE ‘validation’ for health worker who exposed Rochdale child sex abuse ring

Sara Rowbotham was presented with the honour for services to young people by the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle.

Sara Rowbotham was presented with her MBE by the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle (Steve Parsons/PA)
Sara Rowbotham was presented with her MBE by the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle (Steve Parsons/PA)

A former health worker who exposed a child sex abuse ring in Rochdale has said her MBE is “validation” that she “did the right thing”.

Sara Rowbotham, who was depicted in the TV drama Three Girls, was presented with the honour for services to young people by the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle on Tuesday.

Ms Rowbotham made hundreds of referrals detailing the abuse and sexual grooming of young people between 2005 and 2011.

Sara Rowbotham received her MBE for services to young people from the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle (Steve Parsons/PA)

She told the PA news agency: “I’m quite emotional really, it’s been an exciting and really lovely day.

“It’s quite emotional to think things have come so far, and to receive this honour is really important.

“It really reminds me of those times and it’s almost a bit of a trigger after coming to the end of such a horrible situation.

“To be recognised for the hard work and energy and effort of not only myself but the rest of my team is really important.”

Three Girls told the harrowing story of the children who were groomed, sexually abused and trafficked by British Pakistani men in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

Ms Rowbotham said it was “surreal” to have been depicted by actress Maxine Peake.

Actress Maxine Peake played Sara Rowbotham in the TV dramatisation of the Rochdale child sex abuse scandal (Matt Crossick/PA)

She added: “I think it’s really important that people understand the complexities of exploitation, it is a really difficult phenomena.

“I did feel as though I was kind of being pushed aside – for then everybody else to recognise that I did the right thing is validation really.

“The energy and effort that was put in, the anger and the frustration that I felt is acknowledged.

“I think it (abuse) probably is still happening but what our work did was allow victims to come forward.”

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