NHS campaigner Julie Bailey, who worked tirelessly to expose the serious failings at Staffordshire Hospital, has described being made a CBE by the Queen as vindication of all health "whistleblowers".
Ms Bailey founded the campaign group Cure The NHS after being appalled by the care she witnessed her mother receive at the hospital before she died.
Probes into the scandal revealed that poor care could have led to the deaths of hundreds of patients as a result of maltreatment and neglect. Many were left lying in their own urine and excrement for days, forced to drink water from vases or given the wrong medication.
Speaking after the Buckingham Palace investiture ceremony, Ms Bailey said: "It's really exciting that I've received recognition for all the hard work, not only myself but the group as well and everybody else within the NHS who's tried to speak out, whistleblowers from all over the country - it was a recognition that we've done the right thing."
After her mother Bella died in 2007 at Stafford Hospital, Ms Bailey campaigned to expose the major problems at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
Her repeated calls for a public inquiry into the scandal came to fruition in 2010. The inquiry, which published its findings last year, highlighted the ''appalling and unnecessary suffering of hundreds of people'' at the trust.
But she paid a personal price for her battle to expose the failings at the hospital and was the target of a hate campaign which forced her out of her home town of Stafford, and her mother's grave was desecrated.
The campaigner closed her cafe business in the town and moved away following rows with local residents over claims that she wanted the hospital closed.
She added: "It's been a really difficult battle, it really has. We've got a long way to go but I really feel we're starting to break down defences and there's a lot more to do for the vulnerable within this society."
Ms Bailey said: "I live in a caravan in Worcestershire, I was driven out of my home, of my business and away from my friends for raising the alarm - I left Stafford with my head held high knowing I'd done the right thing."
Robert Francis QC, chairman of the public inquiry into the failings at the hospital, made a total of 290 sweeping recommendations for healthcare regulators, providers and government, and the conclusions of the inquiry helped to force a wider review into high death rates at hospitals across the NHS.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced earlier this year that the trust that ran the scandal-hit Stafford Hospital would be dissolved.
Ms Bailey said: "One of the things we would like is safe staffing levels, because we believe the problems within the NHS are down to the NHS not looking after their staff so we can't expect them to look after their patients.
"It's about recognising patients have got to be the priority now, along with patient safety."
Ms Bailey told the inquiry her 86-year-old mother, who had a hiatus hernia and suffered from breathing difficulties, was admitted to Stafford Hospital for a routine hernia operation but died of heart failure after being dropped by a healthcare assistant.
Speaking about her mother she said: "She would have been really proud, I wish she'd been able to be with me - she was there in spirit."
Also honoured during the Buckingham Palace investiture ceremony was former tennis star Ann Jones.She beat Billie Jean King to win the 1969 Wimbledon Ladies title and also won the French Open title twice, but was made a CBE for her many years of work in tennis administration.
Ms Jones helped set up the European branch of the Women's Tennis Association, acting as its European director in the 70s and 80s, before becoming the Lawn Tennis Association's director of women's tennis and later a member of the committee that runs the Wimbledon championship.
Speaking about the famous tennis tournament held in SW19 she said: "There are four grand slams and they're different in their ways. The Australian is very relaxed, the French is very French, if you know what I mean, the American is very casual and noisy and Wimbledon's just Wimbledon.
"We've maintained the tradition at Wimbledon, we've developed it but left it the same but just made it better."
Also recognised was the Queen's private secretary Sir Christopher Geidt.
The senior royal aide, already knighted under the Royal Victorian Order, was made a knight commander of the Order of the Bath for public service.
Sir Christopher has been a member of the royal household for more than ten years, serving first as an assistant private secretary to the Queen, then deputy private secretary before being appointed to the top job, a post he has held for the past six years.