New Year Honour for Ruddington Occupational Therapist

A community-spirited village resident says it’s “an incredible honour and privilege” to have been recognised in The Queen’s New Year Honours list for 2021.

Kate Robertson, who has become very well known around Ruddington since she moved here from Newark in 1991 with her husband and three young children, will receive an MBE for ‘services to occupational therapy’. She retired from the NHS in 2017 but has remained active both in academic roles and within our village, including helping out during the current Coronavirus pandemic.

“Our children went to the village schools and playgroups, and I was a parent governor at James Peacock School for four years” says Kate. “In 2000 I was invited to be a Trustee of the James Peacock Educational Foundation and am currently secretary. I was invited to return to the NHS as the pandemic took hold, but felt I may be of more practical use locally, so joined the COVID-19 Mutual Aid Group and shopped for a few people weekly.”

From the first week of the original ‘lockdown’ Kate also began to assist one of our essential village shops: “I happened to see Anthony at The Bottle Top swamped by orders and deliveries so just offered to help out with the deliveries. I am full of admiration for how they became such an important, responsive and invaluable support to so many during that time – and since” she adds.

Ruddington shoppers queuing at The Bottle Top during the first ‘lockdown’

Kate qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 1982 from St Andrew’s School of Occupational Therapy, Northampton and worked in Doncaster, Liverpool, Lincoln and Newark before settling with her family in Ruddington.

In terms of the work for which she was awarded her MBE, it was in 1996 that Kate and a colleague established the first primary care occupational therapy service in Nottinghamshire based in Rushcliffe where Kate developed an expertise in the prevention and management of falls. She established the multiagency Rushcliffe Falls Prevention and Research Group in 1999 and this group was instrumental in developing the Guide to Action for Falls Prevention Tools. Kate worked in Rushcliffe as an occupational therapist and falls specialist for 17 years. This led her to take an active role in research alongside her clinical roles including being a co-applicant and Principal Investigator in major research projects.

Kate was Consultant Therapist in Falls Prevention for Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust until her retirement from the NHS in 2017. She held the post of Associate Lecturer and Falls Module Lead for the MSc Advanced Practice Programme at the University of Derby from 2010 to 2018 and, until her retirement in July last year, was Assistant Professor at the University of Nottingham School of Medicine. Paying tribute to her, the University says: “She demonstrated a gift for bringing and maintaining people into the research world who would not normally be included, such as care home staff, wardens from sheltered accommodation and older people’s forums.”

Kate (before the latest restrictions) at The Next Episode

Kate was actively involved in the work of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists and was project lead for the development of practice guidelines for OTs in falls prevention and management. She has won a number of awards for her work including a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ from Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in 2017 and a ‘Merit Award’ from the Royal College of Occupational Therapists recognising her significant contribution to the profession.

So far, family celebrations have been necessarily subdued, due to her good news only being made public during the latest ‘lockdown’. In fact, she has known about her MBE for a little while, although she didn’t believe it first:

“I had a phone call four weeks’ ago from the Cabinet Office asking for my email address – obviously I thought it was a SPAM call at first!” says Kate. “They didn’t say what it was about but to look out for an important email that I needed to respond to immediately. I had no idea what it was about so was totally speechless when the email arrived. Usually you are sent a letter, but as the gentleman on the ‘phone said ‘everyone is working from home, so it has to be via email’.”

The email also apologises that they cannot yet say when the Investiture will take place, since all ceremonies have been suspended since last March. Even last year’s recipients are yet to receive their awards. “But whenever it will be, it will be an incredible day, I know.”

As well as getting to Buckingham Palace, Kate also hopes she’ll be able to get back out into the village to enjoy a few celebratory drinks with friends later this year, once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and Ruddington’s many hospitality venues can finally reopen.

Meantime, Kate admits: “I think it’s just sinking in now, having felt quite some ‘imposter syndrome’ when I first heard about my MBE.  It is an incredible honour and privilege for sure.”

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