NCT celebrates star employees with awards

Released on: 19 July 2011

The NCT Specialist Worker Awards 2009 recognise the enthusiasm, support and dedication of outstanding NCT antenatal teachers, postnatal leaders and breastfeeding counsellors. The winners are specialist workers who have gone far beyond what is expected of them in their roles in supporting new parents and the NCT branches in their local area.

The NCT has over 900 specialist workers who provide antenatal and postnatal classes and breastfeeding support to new parents through the life-changing transition to parenthood. Antenatal teachers and postnatal leaders help parents to make decisions about their choice of birth, and type of parent they would like to be. Breastfeeding counsellors offer mother-to-mother support and information on matters related to breastfeeding and babyfeeding.

Kate Williams, Parent Services Director, NCT, said: “Specialist workers are parents’ first port of call and often work tirelessly to help and support new parents in their area. These awards provide an excellent opportunity to highlight and celebrate examples of the specialist workers whose contribution to the NCT is outstanding. They are an inspiration to us all.”


The winners of these prestigious awards are:

Most Supportive Specialist Worker – the specialist worker who has given exceptional amounts of time and energy to support another specialist worker/s: 

·         WinnerRachel Stead from East Kent, advanced antenatal teacher and assessor of antenatal teachers whose enthusiasm and encouragement has inspired many to train as antenatal teachers. Despite having a young family herself, she has given so much to the NCT, to colleagues and students.  However busy she is, she always has time to talk and always makes others feel valued.

·         CommendedTessa Brocklehust, Bedford, antenatal teacher and postnatal leader. She is a great support to other specialist workers.  She is always on the end of a phone or e-mail, listening, encouraging and infecting local workers with enthusiasm. 

·         Commended – Merrill Knight, Billericay, Merrill is a breastfeeding counsellor in Billericay and has been instrumental in peer support training. She has also had a huge influence on the policy makers locally and in the primary care trust.


Reaching All Parents - The specialist worker who has gone beyond their role within the NCT to reach a group of new parents in the area who have not previously been supported by the NCT.


·         Winner – Mary Smale, Huntingdon, Mary recently retired from her work as a breastfeeding counsellor after 30 years, including many years as a tutor (training other counsellors). Mary's work in training mothers outside NCT's traditional areas, including developing peer breastfeeding support in Scunthorpe and Doncaster, has been enormously influential in NCT and outside of it. Her academic background allowed her to devise an educationally-robust method for peer support training, in the document 'An Enabling Approach'. This helps NCT breastfeeding counsellors to reach more parents in local communities through peer supporters.


Research Networkera high achieving research networker for the NCT


·         Miranda Doddwell, Wimbledon, Miranda is an NCT antenatal teacher and a research networker. She set up the website to enable women from all parts of the country to be able to access information about local maternity services to inform their decision making. She has been instrumental in a number of NCT collaborative research and policy documents. Acceptance of her challenging article on the safety of home birth (with Gill Gyte and others) by the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 2009 is a fantastic achievement.


The awards were selected by a panel including the Parent Services Director, Head of Professional Services and the President of the NCT. Nominations were made by colleagues of the specialist workers. Any of NCT’s 900 specialist workers were eligible to be nominated. The awards were presented to the winners at the NCT annual conference in Swansea, 27th – 28th June.


The NCT is well-known for providing specialist workers to run antenatal and postnatal classes, and breastfeeding support. Since the NCT’s inception in 1956, the charity has trained thousands of specialist workers to support and prepare parents for pregnancy, labour and life with a baby. 


If you want to train as an antenatal teacher, postnatal leader or breastfeeding counsellor, call the NCT on 0844 243 6000 for an enquiry pack. Or visit


The NCT is the UK's leading charity on pregnancy, birth and early parenthood - we're with parents all the way from bump to baby. The NCT is a trusted charity that provides expert-led classes, evidence based information and practical and emotional support through 300 UK-wide branch networks and we campaign for better maternity care.