The youth worker who first blew the lid on the child sex abuse scandal in Rotherham has been awarded an MBE. Jayne Senior, a youth service manager, described the honour as "a little bittersweet".

Senior was the first youth worker to alert the media to the grooming ring in the northern city, passing reports to Times journalist Andrew Norfolk. She helped prove a pattern of abuse which had seen thousands of children groomed and raped by gangs of men for decades, but which only came to light in recent years. She was made Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for services to child protection.

"But it is a little bittersweet," Senior, who at the time was manager of the outreach project Risky Business, told The Times. "I think it's a great honour... and an opportunity to keep this in the public domain, because it's not just about Rotherham.

"Getting an award for what happened in Rotherham is the bit that saddens me — all those lives ruined and devastated. But, if it gives me an opportunity to keep talking about it and to continue supporting victims and family members and raising awareness so this never happens on this scale in another town, then it's a great honour."

Senior's MBE was welcomed by pundits as a better use of the honours system than recognising celebrities.

Senior, now manager of Swinton Lock Activity Centre, which works with child sexual exploitation survivors, told the BBC: "I am saddened for the reasons that I got listed but it is an opportunity to keep raising awareness of the girls that were abused. It is an exoneration for telling the truth and also for all the victims who were telling the truth."

In 2014, the Jay report into abuse in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013 found that at least 1,400 children suffered torture, abuse and sexual exploitation, leading at last to enormous public outcry.