AN IRVINE woman has been awarded an MBE after improving breastfeeding standards across Scotland.

Theresa McElhone was awarded in the Queen's Birthday Honours last week with the UNICEF Infant Feeding Adviser given the gong for her services to healthcare and families.

She said: “I was a bit shocked to be honest. I was very surprised but thrilled at the same time. 

"You sort of feel that you are just doing your job, but it is rather nice to have the recognition I have to admit." 

Theresa joined NHS Ayrshire and Arran at Ayrshire Central as a qualified midwife in the 70s while raising her five children with her husband Jim who worked as a GP in Seagate then Townhead. 

In 1996, Theresa was appointed to the role of Infant Feeding Adviser and worked to help women to overcome complex breastfeeding problems, train staff in breastfeeding support and engage in the Baby Friendly accreditation process.

Theresa has been well known for her dedication to providing better access to improved infant feeding support and was integral in developing improved community breastfeeding standards, creating breastfeeding workshops, and expanding these into more deprived areas. 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 per cent 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.