Read her interview below.
It feels totally amazing to be nominated and I would like to thank them all for their nominations and kind comments.
This was such a shock, I never imagined winning this award. It has simply been a wonderful experience for me to have been able to provide some meaningful support to breastfeeding mums.
Actually my journey to becoming a breastfeeding counsellor has been rather a long one.
After finding breastfeeding my third child difficult, I realised that I was a lot less smug about breastfeeding than I had been. Perhaps that is when I first became seriously interested in becoming a breastfeeding counsellor. I trained as a mother supporter, volunteered on the post natal ward at Yeovil Hospital and got involved with the Breastfeeding Group in Shepton Mallet.
I started my BFC training, but then we moved to Exeter. At this same time my husband needed heart surgery. So somewhere amidst the stuff of life my training ground to a halt. I came back to it later and was very happy to complete it. Since then I haven’t looked back. It took about a year to really feel confident on the National Breastfeeding Helpline but thanks to the support and encouragement of Sandra Tanner I now find it very rewarding and thoroughly enjoy it.
When I volunteered for the post natal ward at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital I watched the number of support groups grow over the next few years; but sadly many have now been closed, especially in the children’s centres. Since this included groups local to me I thought about setting up our own local group, and was encouraged by a couple of very special women, who also became part of the group.
So what makes a good group? Having lots of genuine support available, and of course the ever essential cake. Greeting a new mother when she walks in the door is important for making her feel comfortable as quickly as possible.
I am a small part of a very special team running the Teign Valley Breastfeeding Support Group; Jenny Charles, who thankfully moved from Bristol has helped from the start. I have watched Jenny mothering her 2 delightful children, complete her BFC in record time and become the South West Coordinator. She is always there, leading by example, calm and reassuring, ambitious and knowledgeable. We share problems that we come across in the group and on the helpline, discussing our concerns and checking our knowledge with each other.
Then there is Holly Hill, who is just jam-packed full of kindness. Her supporting skills are an example to us all. She demonstrates empathy and reflective listening constantly and makes us all better for it. Holly has done her mother supporter training, also has 2 gorgeous children and hopes to do her BFC training in the future.
More of the same I hope.
The group has naturally led to an increase in local mothers looking for support who have heard about us. Jenny and Holly are very quick off the mark in responding on social media and I will do a home visit if needed.
I feel that having Jenny as South West Regional BFC coordinator is really putting Exeter on the map and we are now keen to be part of the bigger picture locally and making a difference in Devon.
In November 2010, our chair Pam Lacey passed away. Pam had touched the lives of countless families but also encouraged many other women to train and go on to support others with her infectious humour, wisdom and determination.
Pam’s Prize was set up in her memory. It is a way to give recognition to the way volunteer breastfeeding counsellors make a difference to so many families in their time of need. We wanted to celebrate those who go the extra mile as Pam did.