09 October 2020
We are delighted to announce that former Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative Professional Lead for Scotland and current part-time Baby Friendly Professional Officer, Theresa McElhone, has been awarded an MBE for services to families throughout the UK.
“When I received the news from the Cabinet Office, I was shocked, surprised and absolutely thrilled,” Theresa said. “But there are so many other people out there who do just as much and plenty more that are deserving of this. I am incredibly humbled by this recognition.”
Theresa’s career began in the early ‘70s when she qualified as a general nurse in Stobhill Hospital, Glasgow. She soon joined NHS Ayrshire and Arran as a qualified midwife while raising her five children with her husband who worked as a GP. In 1996, Theresa was appointed to the role of Infant Feeding Advisor and worked to help women to overcome complex breastfeeding problems, train staff in breastfeeding support and engage in the Baby Friendly accreditation process.
Throughout her career, Theresa has been well known for her dedication to providing better access to improved infant feeding support for babies, mothers and their families. She was integral in developing improved community breastfeeding standards, creating breastfeeding workshops for pregnant women and their partners, and expanding these into more deprived areas of the community. Ayrshire Maternity Unit was the first large maternity hospital in Scotland to achieve Baby Friendly accreditation, led by Theresa.
Theresa began working for the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative in 1999 and in 2009 became the first-ever Professional Lead for Baby Friendly in Scotland, funded by the Scottish Government. In this role, she was instrumental in supporting 100% of Scottish maternity units to achieve accreditation by 2016.
Theresa is credited with creating the Scottish Baby Friendly Group, a network designed to support services in their journey towards accreditation. She also developed an e-newsletter to share information, updates, and best practice throughout the infant feeding community.
“We are delighted that Theresa has been awarded an MBE, in part due to her work with the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative. This fantastic achievement is a testament to her unwavering commitment to helping families with infant feeding support and developing close, loving relationships to ensure that all babies get the best possible start in life,” said Sue Ashmore, Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative Programme Director.
Theresa recently celebrated the birth of her 10th grandchild born in September. The Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative sends a huge congratulations to Theresa on this news and for this well-deserved public recognition.