Julie Crawford Award for Breastfeeding Support 2014 - Stephanie Heard

Baby Feeding Law Group press release 19 January 2015
The judges are pleased to announce that the 2014 Julie Crawford Award for Breastfeeding Support goes to Stephanie Heard, a Health Visitor in Redruth, Cornwall. The Award will be presented to Stephanie at the forthcoming Baby Milk Action AGM in April 2015. The award is made by the Baby Feeding Law Group in the name of Julie Crawford, a health visitor and a former Director of Baby Milk Action.
On winning the award Stephanie said "I'm delighted with this news and feel very proud to have been offered this award."
In her promotion protection and support of breastfeeding Stephanie has focused on ending the inappropriate marketing and sponsorship of baby food manufacturers within clinics and health centres in Cornwall.
She has helped Community-interest Company Real Baby Milk, write and update their Essential Guide each year since 2006 which aims to ensure that all parents in Cornwall have access to up to date, objective, independent, evidence-based, visually appealing information about breastfeeding (click here for the 2014/15 guide). The Essential Guide is now marketed across the UK and read by thousands of expectant and new parents (see the Real Baby Milk website: realbabymilk.org).
Stephanie has been a role model and inspiration amongst her health visitor colleagues, doing much to ensure that training for all health visitor team members in Cornwall in infant feeding support is of the highest quality Largely because of her, the community health visitor and children’s centre services in Cornwall were the first in the UK to achieve UNICEF Baby Friendly accreditation in 2012.
Stephanie, as a mother of three (a boy and twin girls) with much breastfeeding experience and peer-supporter training, has helped train and set up mother-to-mother breastfeeding support groups in Cornwall, supporting countless mothers, especially those of multiples. Stephanie has also helped make a DVD for parents about introducing solid foods, ‘Ready, Steady Eat!’ - another great resource that is free from any commercial influence (available from Real Baby Milk).
Patti Rundall, OBE, Policy Director of Baby Milk Action, and Founder of the Award, said,
“It is a delight to be able to recognise Stephanie’s fantastic work and to know that the principles that Julie Crawford stood for continue to be upheld.  Stephanie has clearly been an inspiration to so many.  We need thousands more like her to show the world – and the UK government – how health visitors can provide truly independent information and support to mothers.” 
In November 2001, Julie Crawford died from a rare disease, at the age of 42. Julie was a health visitor and a former Director of Baby Milk Action. She cared passionately about breastfeeding and was never frightened to stand up and fight for the rights of mothers to independent and sensitive care.  Julie was especially concerned about the extent of industry funding of education for health professionals and was also keen to push for legal action in defence of mother’s rights to breastfeed.
She was one of the first health visitors to participate in the International Breastfeeding Course at the Institute of Child Health (self funded since employers could not find the resources). In 1992, she wrote in the Joint Breastfeeding Initiative newsletter about the barriers to breastfeeding support from within the health visiting and midwifery professions - where so many had not had adequate training and so many had not had adequate support for their own breastfeeding experiences and the chance to discuss the feelings this left them with: "there is no safe forum in which to reach some understanding". Julie also noted that "many health professionals endorse expectations of infant behaviour which damage breastfeeding" and called for "articulate voices" to promote change for mothers and for health professionals.
In memory of Julie, an award was set up by the Baby Feeding Law Group  to be given to Health Visitors and Health Visitor Teams who showed the qualities Julie called for in that they have made a significant contribution to the protection of breastfeeding and who facilitate universal access to support that is independent of commercial influence. Nominations are sought from parents and colleagues.  
Previous award winners include, Gill Rapley, Deanna Vearncombe, Sharon Breward, Annette Ogilvey Forbes, Alison Spiro and the 6 health visitor representatives on the Infant Feeding Information Team of Blackpool and North Lancashire (IFIT).
The Judges for 2014 were: Obi Amadi, Lead Professional Officer, UNITE/CPHVA, Patti Rundall, Policy Director, Baby Milk Action & Jane Neesam (Baby Milk Action Director and BfN Registered Tutor and Supporter)
There were two runners up for this year’s award:
  • The Breastfeeding Support Worker (BFSW) Team in Luton, who provide a service to women supporting and sustaining breastfeeding.  These dedicated team members use their specialist skills supporting mothers and work hard to ensure that breastfeeding is protected by removing commercially influenced materials, challenge representatives from the infant feeding industry, when they inappropriately approach new mothers and keep an eye on what is happening locally within community centres and the shopping precincts and report back to their lead any influences that may be detrimental to breastfeeding.
  • Jennifer Thompson, a Breastfeeding Peer Support Worker in Central Northumberland, nominated by a mother whom she has supported.  The mother had been harassed by a swimming pool worker and lost her confidence to breastfeed outside the home.  Jennifer went beyond her basic role of providing breastfeeding support by giving her the information she needed to challenge this person – thus empowering her to continue and helping her regain her confidence in breastfeeding outside the home.  The mother said “Jenni made me feel strong when I felt defeated and because of her encouragement, I got back my confidence to nurse in public.”
The Baby Feeding Law Group (BFLG) is an ad-hoc group of professional and lay organisations, including the CPHVA, Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. BFLG is working to halt the commercial promotion of artificial infant feeding in the UK by bringing UK legislation into line with UN Resolutions.
For more information: Mike Brady: 07986 736179   Patti Rundall:  07786 523493