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British Ambassador to France celebrates damehood with a bike ride

Also honoured in the New Year Honours Lists were a fellow British Embassy diplomat, scientists from the Institut Pasteur and a campaigner and an association coordinator who help British people abroad

Britain’s new ambassador to France, Menna Rawlings, has been made a dame Pic: British embassy Paris

Britain’s new ambassador to France, Menna Rawlings, has been made a dame for her work for the foreign office in the New Year Honours Lists.

Dame Menna’s honour comes just over four months after she took over the ambassador’s role.

She described herself on social media as “feeling humbled and a bit overwhelmed” and said she celebrated with a bike ride.

Dame Menna previously told The Connexion in an in-depth interview that she had also marked her arrival in Paris this summer by cycling around the city on a Vélib bike.

Read more: UK’s first female ambassador to France optimistic for new era 

She told The Connexion she was delighted by the award and that it has been a privilege to serve the UK as a diplomat for the last three decades.

"If you’d told me when I was thirteen and on my first ever trip abroad to Mantes-la-Jolie that one day I’d be a Dame and Ambassador to France, I’d never have believed it," she said.

Dame Menna said she is in "fantastic company" with others in France who are receiving honours this time (see below).

She added: “In 2022 I will continue to strengthen the trust and partnership between the UK and France. Our countries share ambitions in a wide range of areas and our intertwined history, interests and values help us to work together daily on issues like Covid-19, fighting climate change and tackling illegal migration.”

The British government said that she was recognised for her exceptional career contributions as one of the UK's top diplomats and now the first female Ambassador to France.

It added she also gave "outstanding service" in her last three roles: Helping to lead the foreign office's response to Covid-19, as its director general for economic and global issues, and as the UK's High Commissioner to Australia.

Specifically, she is now a Dame Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George, equivalent to a knighthood for men. The order is especially associated with work for Britain overseas and she was appointed for her “for services to British foreign policy”.

Scientists, campaigner and British association co-ordinator also listed

Also honoured in France was microbiologist Prof Stewart Cole, the Franco-British director-general of the Institut Pasteur in Paris, who was knighted for services to science.

Born in Wales, Sir Stewart has led the Institut for the last four years. Latterly, it has played an important role in research related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

His collegue Simon Wain-Hobson, head of molecular retrovirology, was made an OBE for services to virology.

Shirley-Ann Wrigglesworth was awarded the British Empire Medal for helping British people in south-east France, as co-ordinator and welfare officer for the British Association of the Alpes-Maritimes and the Var.

Antoine-Philippe Boo, who formerly worked at the British Embassy in Paris as a diplomat specialising in borders security, was made an MBE.

Also honoured with an MBE was Jeremy Morgan QC, from Italy, who has served as vice chairman of British in Europe, the umbrella organisation which campaigned on behalf Britons in the EU during the Brexit negotiations and implementation.

BiE said the honour was for his “tireless work on the steering committee from 2017 to 2021”.

Mr Morgan said in a statement he felt “very privileged”, but added that the award was “really a recognition of the struggle of all of us in British in Europe” who he said had refused to accept that the Brexit referendum should result in loss of rights for Britons in the EU.

BiE previously stated that it was winding down by the end of last year, linked to funding issues and time commitments, but now says it will cease activities at the end of this month.

Previous articles

Ambassador’s Christmas message to Britons in France 

First female UK ambassador to France begins work at Wellington's desk

New UK ambassador to France means women hold posts in both countries

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