A TOP female chief engineer has been appointed an MBE after passionately working over the last 24 years to show youngsters that “whatever boys can do, girls can too”.

Ford Dunton’s Sarah Haslam, who was first notified of the honour in June, is to this day still in shock at having joined the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, which recognises the achievements and services of our unsung heroes across the nation.

Battling with the struggles of keeping the news quiet after delays due to Covid-19, Sarah is now finally able to celebrate the achievement for her services to engineering and promotion of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) careers for women.

The 49-year-old from Leigh hopes her journey inspires more young women to get involved in the field - an industry which is too often stereotyped as being strictly for men.

She explained: “It all started with a Women into Science and Engineering (WISE) course. I knew I loved physics and I knew I loved maths at school, so this was a way of doing both rolled into one. I also always watched the Grand Prix and those kind of events, so it just seemed perfect.

“When I was 17 I got to go for a weekend to Imperial College London and I got to meet so many inspiring female engineers who were real role models. This is the same experience I want to offer our kids.

“After I applied for different manufacturers I managed to get a job at Ford and I’ve been here ever since.

“I’ve done a whole load of job roles like working on the Fiesta sunroof and windscreen wipers, which is so amazing to see come to life after three or four years in the making. I have been lucky enough to travel all over the world to places like all over Europe, Thailand and America. I even lived in Valencia in Spain for three years.

“There’s the stereotype that this is for men, but I’ve always had so many fantastic opportunities, regardless of being a female. Even though it is largely male dominated, I’ve never been left behind.”

And after receiving her honour, Sarah has vowed to continue her mission of opening up doors for females.

She added: “I’m honestly still in shock. I never once imagined when I first started that I’d get an MBE, so I feel so honoured and I won’t stop now.

“One of the girls who actually attended our first international women’s engineering day event back in 2014 is now actually an apprentice with Ford and we have a women of Ford group, which focuses on helping girls progress in the company. It just shows there are so many options, engineering truly can change the world.”