by | Thursday, January 17th, 2019 | News

An inspiring member of Livewell Southwest’s Wellbeing team has won a top award for her voluntary work supporting new parents.

Mandy Chapman, who works as a health improvement practitioner based at Mount Gould Hospital, Plymouth, has been named South West regional winner in the National Childbirth Trust Star Awards in recognition of her work as an NCT breastfeeding counsellor delivering breastfeeding sessions as part of NCT antenatal courses and offering support and visits on a voluntary basis over many years.

The annual awards recognise and celebrate the achievements, hard work and dedication of those who “make a fantastic contribution to the charity’s work by providing services and supporting parents across the UK at an incredibly important time in their lives”.

Announcing the results, judges said: “Mandy has been an important part of Plymouth & West Devon NCT branch for around 10 years and her dedication and commitment is seemingly without limits. She is kind, sympathetic and caring and always prepared to go the extra mile to support new mums.

“As the only breastfeeding counsellor in the area, she answers all the emails and never refuses a call-out. She also supports the helpline and delivers breastfeeding workshops at all the antenatal classes. In addition, she is training a new cohort of Breastfeeding Peer Supporters so that more women in the South West can be supported on their breastfeeding journey.”

Mandy has been a peer supporter herself, and her role at Livewell includes training and mentoring breastfeeding peer supporters as well as delivering breastfeeding refresher training for health visitors and midwives at the Livewell Academy.

She said: “Peer supporters are really important in helping and encouraging women to breastfeed. They are all women who are breastfeeding, or who have breastfed, so the new mums know the supporter has been there, and knows what she’s going through. The supporters volunteer at Latch on groups in children’s centres and in hospital, and can be there for two or more hours if that’s what is needed – they’ve got time to do that.”

Mandy runs three peer supporter courses a year, and there are currently 40 supporters in and around Plymouth.

She said: “It’s a hugely rewarding thing to do. You have a mum come in crying because it’s not working out, and she goes out smiling because you’ve helped her and her baby.”

Jan Potter, head of Health Improvement at Livewell Southwest, is Mandy’s manager, and she said: “I was Mandy’s health visitor in Honicknowle 15 years ago and I encouraged her to become a volunteer peer supporter. She then joined the team and now delivers a whole range of training, health checks and programmes.

“She is in constant receipt of thank you cards and is hugely popular with everyone she delivers services to. We are immensely proud of Mandy, she is an incredible lady.”

Mandy is now looking forward to the awards ceremony at the National Space Centre, Leicester, in March.

“I can’t wait – when I was a child I wanted to be an astronaut or an astronomer so to have the ceremony at the Space Centre is the icing on the cake.”

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