A SCIENTIST raised in Kidderminster whose research has opened the door to finding a cure for a rare form of autism has received a knighthood.

Sir Adrian Bird, who lived in Kidderminster for 13 years after moving to Chester Road North at the age of four, was recognised for services to science in the new year's honours list.

He attended St Ambrose's Catholic Primary School and the former Queen Elizabeth I Grammar School in Hartlebury - where he achieved just two Cs and a D in his A levels - before moving to the University of Sussex to study biochemistry. The 66-year-old is currently Buchanan professor of genetics at the University of Edinburgh and specialises in DNA and gene research.

His most notable achievement has come in epigenetics - studying gene activity - and its role in Rett syndrome, a type of autism. His laboratory team discovered Rett-like symptoms could be readily reversed in mice by restoring functional genes, raising the hope the disease could be cured.

Father-of-four Sir Adrian said: "I am glad I accepted the honour and someone must have gone to some trouble to put me forward. My family are delighted and one of the best things about it is a lot of people get in contact with you and say nice things so I really enjoyed that."

While living in Kidderminster, the Wolverhampton-born geneticist played cricket for his grammar school and hockey for Stourport Hockey Club.

He completed his PhD in Edinburgh in 1970 and has also studied at Yale in the United States, in Zurich, Switzerland and Vienna, Austria.

Regarding the future, Sir Adrian said he would not retire yet: "We are still a big research group and very active. We are still funded well and our work is still published in journals and as long as that continues, so will I."

Meanwhile, Shrawley resident Julie Bailey was awarded a CBE for services to the care of older people. The 51-year-old set up campaign group Cure the NHS, which fought to uncover shocking neglect and appalling standards of care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust following the death of her 86-year-old mother Bella at Stafford Hospital.

The revelations were said to be some of the biggest failings in NHS history.

She tweeted: "A huge thank you for all your kind comments. I received the CBE for all who have worked hard to make the NHS safer and my mum would be so proud."