Local projects recognised for making a difference to Public Health

Published: 24 Feb 2017

Local projects that have gone above and beyond to improve the health of residents were honoured at Hertfordshire’s Excellence in Public Health Awards on Wednesday 22 February 2017.

The award ceremony, which took place at Hertfordshire County Council’s Public Health conference, saw six worthy projects recognised for their outstanding contribution to improving health and wellbeing.

Delegates also had the opportunity to vote for an overall winner of the special Dr Joan Crawley Award, which went to Stuart King from Beezee Bodies, a countywide organisation that works with families who have a child who is overweight or obese to help them develop a healthier lifestyle.

Stuart said: “I’m delighted to even have made it to the final six, let alone win the overall award! I think it demonstrates how a group of passionate and dedicated people who really care about the families they work with can have a huge impact and change behaviour in the long term.”

Single dad Chris Lea knows just how much Beezee Bodies can change lives. His wife died of cancer when their son Ross was just eight years old and he suddenly found himself a single parent and in complete despair. As a result, his own and his son’s physical and mental health suffered.

He said: “My wife had cooked all the food for 20 years and I didn’t have a clue what to do. Ross and I were eating far too much of all the wrong food, he used to call me Captain Birdseye!

“Ross’s weight was flagged up through the weight checks at school and I was put in touch with Beezee Bodies. I can’t tell you how much this changed my life, they were absolutely fantastic.

“The staff really cared about us and went above and beyond to help us turn our lives around. Each week we learnt something new, whether it was about portion sizes, shopping healthily or cooking healthy recipes, and every week we did some kind of physical activity.

“The great thing about the scheme is that Ross and I were a team – we were learning together, so we kept each other motivated. In fact, it was often Ross who encouraged me and kept me on track!

“The difference to our lifestyle is amazing; we’ve both lost weight but more than that, we are both happier and emotionally stronger. I’m now socialising again and Ross is no longer the introverted person he became. He’s overcome his fear of water and learnt to swim and has just been accepted as a member of the Under-14s county golf squad!”

The other five award winners at the conference were:

• Juanita Prescott, Stevenage Leisure Limited
• Sarah Wren, Hertfordshire Independent Living Service
• Nutrition and Wellbeing Team, Hertfordshire Independent Living Service
• Christine Wyard, ASCEND
• Floating Support Team, Aldwyck Housing Group

Hertfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Libraries and Localism, Teresa Heritage, said: “It was a really difficult decision to decide on the winners, there were so many deserving and brilliant projects put forward.

“Hertfordshire is considered to be one of the best Public Health partnerships in the country and the awards are our way of publicly acknowledging the great work that goes on here.”

For more information about the range of initiatives in Hertfordshire to support your health and wellbeing please visit www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/healthinherts or sign up to a regular newsletter at www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/updateme