Devon

New Year Honours 2020: MBE for HIV story woman

Becky Mitchell Image copyright Becky Mitchell
Image caption Becky Mitchell regularly speaks openly about being diagnosed with HIV and posted this picture to mark HIV Testing Week in November

A woman who shared her story of being diagnosed with HIV has been appointed MBE for services to HIV awareness.

Becky Mitchell, 45, was recklessly infected seven years ago by a partner who was subsequently prosecuted and sent to prison.

Ms Mitchell, from Teignmouth, Devon, has been recognised in the Queen's New Year Honours list.

She said she hoped the award would highlight women with the virus.

"There are still not enough stories about women living with HIV," she said.

"It still seems to be that it affects just gay men and it doesn't."

Image copyright Becky Mitchell
Image caption Miss Mitchell is an ambassador for Devon Girls Can, part of the #thisgirlcan running initiative to support women to get fit and tackle mental health issues

Miss Mitchell, who works for the Environment Agency and is also a personal trainer said she initially thought she might have a bad cold or flu before she was diagnosed.

She said her immediate reaction was to ask the doctor what impact it would have on her cycling and running.

"The more you talk about something, the more you normalise it," she said.

"We talk about cancer and other life-threatening conditions, well, this one is manageable."

Miss Mitchell works with the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) and was the face of Women and HIV: Invisible No Longer, a THT and Sophia Forum project she co-produced.

She said being appointed MBE "feels very special" and added: "I just wish my mum was alive to share the excitement."

Other honours recipients from Devon include:

  • David Youle was appointed MBE for services to local history after heading a major restoration project of a medieval community building in South Tawton, Dartmoor
  • Adrian Smith, who is world-renowned for his high quality reverse-glass lettering and artistry, was appointed MBE
  • Claire Wallis, the founder of charity ChemoHero, which to date has resulted in 1,000 chemotherapy patients in Devon receiving a Box of Kindness, was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to people with cancer and their families