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.”
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.
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 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
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.
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.”
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.”
Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland (SBH Scotland) has long advocated folic acid fortification in flour. Our Chief Executive, Andrew H D Wynd, said, “We are happy to hear that Scottish Government are now urging UK Ministers to move the fortification process forward. The recent Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) letter to Health Ministers highlighted serious concerns arising from the delay in fortifying flour so the UK need to be pushing for measures to be put into place to increase the folate status of women. In Scotland it is thought that nearly 50% of pregnancies are unplanned and mother’s to be will not have increased folic acid intake prior to conception. SBH Scotland believe that mandatory fortification will make a significant difference to the many planned and unplanned pregnancies diagnosed with Neural Tube Defects, of which spina bifida is the most common.”
He continues, “Additionally, if the mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid is not proceeding in the short term, then advice must be put in place to ensure that woman who are sexually active and of child bearing age are aware of the importance taking folic acid prior to conception and not once pregnancy is confirmed, which is the norm at present.”
Scotland specific issues…
Scotland has more live births per head of population with spina bifida than anywhere else in the UK. Each week in Scotland one pregnancy is affected by spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus. Possibly due to religious and cultural differences, only 50% of pregnancies are terminated in Scotland as compared with 80% in the rest of the UK.
Taking folic acid supplements, at the correct recommended dose prior to conception, could prevent over 70% of these pregnancies from being affected and reduce both the number of those born with the condition and the number of pregnancies terminated.
Children born with spina bifida often have paralysis in the lower limbs, urological, neurological and orthopaedic problems which often become more significant throughout life. Fortification of flour would reduce the number of babies born with this life-long disability.
Parents in Scotland are offered impartial and non-judgmental advice by the SBH Scotland to enable them to make informed decisions about their pregnancy. Whatever the final decision, SBH Scotland will always be there for support and advice whenever needed. If you are affected by any of the issues associated with spina bifida or hydrocephalus, you can call the SBH Scotland Family Support Service helpline on 08459 11 11 12 or visit www.sbhscotland.org.uk
Further details on Folic Acid