Rupert Whitaker and Martyn Butler helped save ‘countless lives’ (Picture: Terry Higgins Trust)

The founders of the UK’s leading HIV charity have urged people to fight for ‘respect and inclusive change‘.

Rupert Whitaker and Martyn Butler are among the recipients of the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for 2022.

The pair, co-founders of the Terrence Higgins Trust, have been awarded OBEs for services to charity and public health.

The charity marks its 40th anniversary this year.

It was named after Terry Higgins, the first named person to die of an AIDS-related illness in the UK on July 4, 1982.

This led his partner Rupert and their friend Martyn to create the Trust in his honour.

The charity has since been credited with ‘altering the course of the HIV epidemic’.

Mr Whitaker said: ‘I’m deeply honoured for my work to be recognised in this way.

‘We’ve come a very long way since Terry’s death 40 years ago and the darkest days of the HIV pandemic, and I’m glad to have played a part through co-founding Terrence Higgins Trust and my community-work internationally, as well as my public health and medical work professionally.

The charity was founded in memory of Terrence Higgins (Picture: Terrence Higgins Trust)

“What does ‘Pride’ truly mean?”

Whether you’re an LGBT+ person living with HIV or you’re after support around your sexual health, we are dedicated to being there every month of the year.

Happy #PrideMonth from all of us at Terrence Higgins Trust! 🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️ #PrideMonth2022 #Pride pic.twitter.com/fEECCEIG3c

— Terrence Higgins Trust (@THTorguk) June 1, 2022

‘This award recognises work that many, many of us have done over the years and I hope it encourages us all to continue to fight for respect and inclusive change, crucial work that, more usually, remains unnoticed.’

Mr Butler added: ‘I would like to dedicate this honour to all of the millions lost to HIV, including my dear friend Terry who we lost forty years ago.

‘After Terry died we knew we wanted to do something to help others and stop more people from dying like he had.

‘I’m deeply proud of the legacy we have given him and for Terrence Higgins Trust’s role in this country’s HIV response.’

From its small beginnings in a flat in London, the charity have grown to become the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity, and one of the largest in Europe.

More: LGBTQ+

More than 10% of its employees are people living with HIV, 25% are from Black or other minority ethnic communities and more than a fifth are gay men.

Ian Green, chief executive at the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: ‘Forty years ago Rupert Whitaker and Martyn Butler altered the course of the HIV epidemic by founding Terrence Higgins Trust and, in doing so, saved countless lives.

‘It is absolutely fitting to see our charity’s founders honoured in this way as we approach the 40thanniversary of Terry’s death and the founding of Terrence Higgins Trust in his memory.

‘We thank Rupert and Martyn for turning a personal tragedy into a pioneering response that continues to change lives four decades on.’

In addition, Rupert and Martyn were honoured by the LGBT community today, with a lifetime achievement award presented by Stephen Fry at the Bank of London’s Rainbow Honours Awards.

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