Chief Science and Technology Officer at the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), Dr Fiona Rayment OBE was bestowed the Légion d’honneur yesterday on 24 May 2022. The news follows her recent appointment as Patron at Women in Nuclear (WiN UK).

An honorary distinction ceremony was held at the French Embassy in London to present Fiona with the prestigious award, to celebrate and reward her invaluable work in the nuclear field promoting links between France and the UK.

Established in 1802 by Napoléon Bonaparte. It is France’s highest distinction and is awarded in recognition of both military and civilian merit. On average, just 10 British nationals per year receive the Légion d’honneur.

Organised by the UK-France Women in Nuclear Partnership, the ceremony was part of a two-day event which included a welcome visit to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for French and UK delegations.

BEIS outlined the UK government’s commitment to the nuclear sector, highlighting promising early career prospects and experienced level opportunities. The importance of nuclear in decarbonising our economies was also covered in relation to achieving net zero ambitions by 2050.

Creating a strong network of talented women in nuclear was considered as the catalyst for maximising these opportunities. Prior to the honour distinction, Fiona moderated a panel discussion about improving the gender balance in the nuclear industry with delegates from the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), Assystem, Framatome and the Environment Agency all taking part.

Hosted at the French Ambassador’s Residence at Kensington Palace Gardens, Gerrit Van Rossum, Ministre Conseiller at the French Embassy bestowed the Légion d’honneur to NNL’s Chief Science and Technology Officer.

It is customary on such occasions to retrace the career history of the awardee, but the day had a very special meaning, joined by the laureates of the French-British initiative to promote the role of women in nuclear energy in our two countries.

Dr Fiona Rayment OBE, Chief Science and Technology Officer at NNL, said:

“I feel very privileged to receive this honour for doing something that I love. As a nuclear chemist and engineer I’m so excited about the opportunities that nuclear energy can bring to the world – France has always led the way on nuclear energy.

“I am grateful to NNL (and its predecessors) for enabling my wonderful career in nuclear and my family for supporting me in absolutely everything that I do – thank you!”

Gerrit Van Rossum, Ministre Conseiller at the French Embassy, said:

“By awarding the Légion d’honneur we are recognising your work in the areas of research and development (R&D), innovation and skills across the nuclear sector. France wants to reward your contribution to strengthening the Franco-British nuclear partnership.

“Chère Fiona, it is my real pleasure to present you with this award in front of our young women laureates. I hope your example will show them the way, so that they can carry on in the same spirit of dedication and openness.”

More about the UK-France Women in Nuclear initiative

This mentoring programme brings together early to mid-career women (5-10 years of professional experience) in the British and French nuclear sectors.

The initiative pairs women from the nuclear sector with a senior mentor from another country, providing events and site visits to help women form a network.

This is an excellent opportunity for women in the nuclear sector who are looking to expand their international network and to learn from some of the most senior women in the British and French nuclear industries.