Chief Executive Officer
Celia’s commitment to early prevention volunteering began in Essex in 1990 when, working as a health visitor, she recognised that many parents feel fearful or wary of professionals. Celia established a 'Community Mums and Dads' volunteer peer support programme. Drawing on the strengths of local mothers she found them uniquely placed to offer a different kind of support to parents on her caseload.
Celia is passionate about raising awareness of the unique contribution of volunteering to achieving outcomes for parents and children. The Essex programme became a national model of good practice and Celia began supporting other organisations to develop similar Community Parent programmes.
In 2004 Celia gained a 'Leading Practice through Research' Award from the Health Foundation and spent two years working with and evaluating 10 Community Parent Programmes that she had helped to establish across the UK. Inspired by the findings, Celia resigned from a long career in the NHS and established Parents 1st as an independent social enterprise in 2008.
As CEO of Parents 1st, Celia’s vision and commitment is to promote, support and develop autonomous Community Parent programmes across the UK of the highest quality. This means providing quality support, resources and learning networks to equip others to deliver effective early prevention volunteering that empowers parents to give their babies the best possible start in life.
In 2010 Celia and her team established a new 'Pregnancy Pal and Birth Buddy' volunteer programme in South Essex. In 2013 Celia won the UnLtd Big Venture Challenge to scale the impact of this innovative new programme. In 2015 the NESTA and Cabinet Office Social Action Innovation Fund supported Celia further and two licensed affiliate programmes were established in Tower Hamlets and Derby.
Other achievements include a Parents 1st National City & Guild Accreditation Centre providing unique opportunities for volunteers to gain national qualifications drawing on their experience of supporting parents in the natural volunteer setting.
Celia has a background in midwifery and has over 30 years’ experience as a public health nurse. She has a master’s degree in Public Health (Health Visiting) and is an Honorary Fellow of the Queen’s Nursing Institute.