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CBE for SBH Scotland Chair, Dr Margo Whiteford

Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland are delighted to announce that their Chairperson, Dr Margo Whiteford, has been awarded the title of CBE (Commander of the British Empire) as part of the 2017 New Year’s Honours List for her services to charity and health.

Dr Whiteford was diagnosed with spina bifida at birth and is paralysed from the waist down. Despite spending most of her life in a wheelchair, she has dedicated her time to charitable causes, taking particular interest in organisations that support lifelong conditions.

Dr Margo Whiteford

A longstanding member, and now chairperson, of Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland (SBH Scotland) Dr Whiteford is also a board member of the International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus and was elected president of the organisation in 2013. She is also chair of a global expert panel which looks to improve treatments for people with spina bifida on a worldwide scale, and she works closely with the Global Summit for Food Fortification in Tanzania.

Dr Whiteford dedicates her efforts to raising awareness of the complex conditions. In 2002 she took part in the Great North Run, where she not only completed the 13-mile event in her wheelchair, but managed to convince fellow competitor, Gordon Ramsay OBE to become an honorary patron of SBH Scotland. Since taking up the role in 2005, the TV chef has raised thousands of pounds for the organisation. In 2009 Dr Whiteford added to her long list of fund raising achievements when she completed the London Marathon, raising £15,000 in the process. She has also completed the Great Scottish Run on four separate occasions and most recently has zip wired across the River Clyde.

Chief executive of SBH Scotland Andrew H D Wynd MBE said, “I would like to offer my congratulations to Dr Whiteford whose support over the past 30 years has been indispensable to SBH Scotland. She is an incredible woman whose achievements demonstrate that physical disability does not have to be a barrier to success.

“As a voluntary member of organisations like ours, Dr Whiteford utilises her spare time to attend meetings and seminars across the world. Her dedication to improving the lives of those affected by these complex conditions is irrefutable and she is truly an inspiration to all of us.

He continues “Her parents were part of the original group that founded SBH Scotland back in 1965 with the aim of providing support to those affected by the condition. It is incredible that just 50 years later we are seeing their daughter being recognised for her own contributions to this cause. She is a tireless campaigner and the team at SBH Scotland could not be happier for her latest achievement.”

In her professional career, Dr Whiteford continues to break stereotypes, proving that being in a wheelchair does not preclude her from working in challenging environments. Originally graduating from the University of Dundee with a BSc in Pharmacology, she went on become a qualified medical practitioner. Today, she works as a consultant clinical geneticist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow, where she has diagnosed, and supported hundreds of children and adults who are affected by genetic conditions.

The final word comes from Dr Margo Whiteford herself,

"I'm just glad that my parents are able to witness this after the gloomy picture that they were given about my future when I was born. To all parents of children with spina bifida never give up dreaming about what might be achieved."

SBH Scotland win National Charity of the Year

Dr Margo Whiteford and Richard Donald of SBH Scotland receive an award

Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus (SBH) Scotland, has been named National Charity of the Year by a host of judges and scooped up three other accolades at this year’s Charity Champions Awards.

The awards, which are judged by an independent panel who include the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), were set up to recognise and reward the country’s charitable sector and they announced the winners at the Marriott Hotel, Glasgow, during a glitzy ceremony.

Charity Champions CEO Warren Paul and event organisers at Paramount Creative said,

"We are delighted that Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus (SBH) Scotland, have won National Charity of the Year. They do such an amazing job and work tirelessly for their cause and that is why we are so honored to celebrate their hard work."

SBH Scotland were awarded four awards in total including the top gong, National Charity of the Year. Its chairperson, Dr Margo Whiteford, was awarded the Lifetime Contribution Award for her dedication to raising awareness of disabililty over the past 50 years.

A group of SBH Scotland fundraisers in Peterhead also won Volunteers of the Year, for their continued support and unique fundraising efforts.

Finally, SBH Scotland was announced as runner-up for Disability Charity of the Year.

Deborah Roe, fundraising director at SBH Scotland, said: “We’re honoured to win National Charity of the Year, as well as recognise Margo for all her achievement and commitment to improving lives over three decades. She inspires us daily and is a driving force behind everything we’re able to achieve.

“Our Peterhead ladies are also well deserving and we are grateful to everyone who sponsors, donates and volunteers to help us on our mission.

“We’ve just celebrated the 50th year of SBH Scotland and it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come in half a century and we’re proud to be recognised for the specialist work we provide across the country.”

If you would like to support SBH Scotland, call 03455 211 600, email or visit our web for more details.

Baby Bella inspires family to raise £1,500 in Kiltwalk

A Banchory dad, whose three-month old baby daughter, Bella, has spina bifida and hydrocephalus, is part of a team which raised nearly £1,500 for our specialist charity to help other babies with the same condition.

The McDonald Family raised £1500 in the Aberdeen Kiltwalk

Martin McDonald, along with Bella's aunt and uncle, Anna and Grant, were sponsored to complete the 26-mile walk Aberdeen Kiltwalk from Duthie Park to Portach Green.

Spina Bifida occurs early in pregnancy and Martin’s daughter Bella was born in April with the condition which led to two operations in her first week of life, one to close the hole in her back, and one to fit a medical device to drain fluid which had built up in her brain as a result of Hydrocephalus.

The McDonald Family raised £1500 in the Aberdeen Kiltwalk

The money raised will be used by us to provide personalised home and hospital support for families in the North of Scotland with new born babies who have spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus

Justin Currie pledges his support to SBH Scotland

Del Amitri frontman Justin Currie visited Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland’s HQ in Cumbernauld to announce his unique auction prize for this year’s Scottish Entertainment and Hospitality Awards.

The “Roll to me” singer has agreed to compose, produce and record a single for the winner which will also be framed as a keepsake for the highest bidder. As part of the prize, the charity will own the rights to the song, meaning any money made from the music will go directly to specialist charity, SBH Scotland.

Justin Currie visits SBH Scotland

The Scottish Entertainment & Hospitality Awards due to be held at the Glasgow City Hotel on Sunday 8 May, showcases the range and quality of Scotland’s entertainment industry. SBH Scotland is the official charity partner for the annual awards and all money raised on the night by the nominees will go towards the services it provides to families across Scotland.

Justin was inspired to donate the personal prize after he heard about the charity and spent time with SBH Scotland’s service users at one of its bi-weekly play schemes, singing and playing with the children at an “Under the Sea” themed session.

Justin Currie said: “I know one of the families who are supported by Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland. They are consistently singing the praises of the charity and the work they do to make their everyday lives that much easier.

“I wanted to provide a prize that would get people talking as well as hopefully raise a lot of money. I will spend time with the winner getting to know them, so the song will be something truly personal to them.”

Are Scotland taking the next step?

Folic acid in flour - Ministers ask for advice on next steps.

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt has written to Food Standards Scotland for advice on how Scotland could fortify flour with folic acid.

The advice will be used to help ministers decide how to pursue the policy on a Scotland only basis. The Scottish Government’s preference is for a UK wide solution, but the UK Government has so far failed to commit to the measure despite repeated requests.

The Welsh and Northern Irish governments have also publically backed the fortification of flour.

The Scottish Government believes mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid is the best way to reduce neural tube defects like spina bifida in unborn babies. Folate levels are low across the UK by international standards – particularly so in Scotland.

Ms Watt wrote again to UK Public Health Minister Jane Ellison on November 11 last year to ask the UK Government to consider mandatory fortification. However, she again failed to commit to the step.

Ms Watt said:

“Our consistent position is that UK-wide mandatory fortification of flour is the best way to reduce neural tube defects. However, despite repeated requests it’s clear that the UK Government has no intention of doing so at this time.

“I have therefore asked Food Standards Scotland to provide some detailed advice on how we could do this on a Scotland-only basis. This advice will then be used to allow us to make a decision on what our next steps should be.

“There are far too many babies being born with Spina Bifida in Scotland – particularly in our more deprived communities. Folic acid is tasteless, entirely safe within recommended intake levels and is already included in many foods like breakfast cereals.

“There are 78 countries around the world that already have mandatory fortification of flour. The USA has done it for the past eight years, with no adverse effects on health. By joining them we can help to save many families from the heartbreak of being told their baby has Spina Bifida.”

Ross Finnie, Chair of Food Standards Scotland said:

“As Scotland’s independent public food body, we will be happy to provide the Scottish Government with the advice that has been requested. Such advice will fit well with our statutory duty to improve the diet of the Scottish population. The advice we provide will enable the Scottish Government to determine the best way forward to reduce neural tube defects. In doing so, we will draw on the previous body of advice provided by the Food Standards Agency as well as taking account of any new evidence and advice from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition.”

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