Senior radiography lecturer receives MBE at Windsor Castle

Dr Claire Robinson was presented with an MBE award by Princess Anne for her services to forensic investigation

Published: 15 March 2024 People

A senior radiography lecturer has been invested with a Member of the British Order for her work to help develop improved CT scans during autopsies.

Dr. Claire Robinson travelled to Windsor Castle last month to receive her MBE from Princess Anne.

A consultant radiographer in forensic imaging at University Hospitals of Leicester (UHL) NHS Trust and a senior lecturer at the University of Leicester, Dr. Robinson is researching forensic imaging methods and teaching on the new BSc in Radiography programme at the university.

Joining 65 other recipients, Dr. Robinson attended the investiture ceremony for her award on Tuesday 16 February.

'Very personal and special'

She said: “It was such a wonderful day, I felt nervous beforehand but extremely proud. The Princess Royal asked me some detailed questions about my work including the post-mortem imaging service and knew of my involvement which made the moment feel very personal and special.”

Dr. Robinson was also a member of the team that scanned Richard III’s remains, after they were discovered underneath a car park in 2012.

She added: “While I waited in one of the state rooms I got chatting to a staff member and he asked about my work and where I’d travelled from so I told him, Leicester. He immediately mentioned Richard III and I was able to tell him that I’d scanned his remains. He took me into another room and showed me the portrait of Richard III in Windsor Castle and that felt so incredibly special.”

“It really is the proudest moment of my career to receive an MBE and I feel so honoured to have been nominated for the award by so many of my peers. It's all been very humbling. I’ll never forget my day at Windsor Castle, it was very special. My parents are immensely proud of me so it was wonderful to be able to take them with me to enjoy the day. They were literally six feet away as I received my investiture so could see absolutely everything.”

An invaluable system

Dr. Robinson has 22 years’ experience in radiography and is one of the key players in the development of post-mortem computed tomography (PMCT) scan services in Leicester and the UK, which avoids the need for autopsy for thousands of people each year. 

The PMCT system proved “invaluable” during the pandemic, as safety concerns limited autopsy capacity. It has now become the primary tool for HM Coroner investigations in Leicester, and has been introduced elsewhere thanks to training tools developed by Dr. Robinson herself.

PMCT is used in the identification of victims in mass fatalities and is integral to the UK’s disaster response planning. Dr. Robinson has assisted with investigations into the Shoreham Air Show crash (2015), the Manchester Arena bombing and Grenfell tower fire, both in 2017.

Internationally, she also assisted the MH17 investigation in 2014.

Making a real difference

During the pandemic, Dr. Robinson led a team of radiographers while working towards and achieving her PhD. 

In 2014, Dr. Robinson was awarded a Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship worth approximately £260,000 by the National Institute of Health Research.

Cathy Lea, deputy head of operations and Claire’s manager at Leicester hospitals, said: "We do say, working in the NHS, that no-one is indispensable. This is largely true, but there are a small number of key individuals who you meet who make real difference. Claire is one of those people."

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, president and vice-chancellor of the university, said: “Recognition with an award by His Majesty The King is the highest accolade possible and, on behalf of us all, we congratulate Dr. Robinson. 

“At Leicester, we take pride in our community being Citizens of Change, forming a powerful network that delivers real world benefits in the locality, nationally and internationally. Dr. Robinson and her colleagues exemplify this and their pioneering work has had global ramifications."

(Image: Claire Robinson)