Top professional honor for Dr Celia Harding

14 November 2018

Dr Celia Harding has been awarded the Fellowship of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapy (RCSLT) in recognition of her contribution to the advancement of the profession, both as an academic and a practising speech and language therapist.

Dr Harding, 55, has had 32 years unbroken service in the NHS. Her main areas of research have been in the areas of learning disability and swallowing problems, in particular premature infant feeding. Research has been focused on investigating typical strategies used by speech and language therapists to overcome patients’ swallowing problems (dysphagia) and many of her publications focus on neonatal feeding, the key feature of her work at the Royal Free London.

Ruth Ouzia, divisional director of operations for women and children’s services said: “Celia is a true team player and one who has inspired those around her as a dynamic teacher, researcher and fabulous hands on clinician. She is key to our care for infants and is respected by all on both a professional and personal level.”

Karina Wyles, head of children’s nursing, said: “Celia is a unique, inspiring speech and language therapist, and an active and valued member of our neonatal teams at Royal Free Hospital and Barnet Hospital. She has tirelessly provided excellent family focused individualised service to babies and families over the years. Her commitment is second to none.”

Celia has been involved in many joint research projects working with medical, therapy and nursing staff developing care for the parents and infants in the trust’s neonatal units. Dr Harding also forged a long-lasting relationship with the Westminster Learning Disability Partnership and was innovative in developing learning opportunities where service users with learning disabilities were active teachers in delivering curriculum content to speech and language therapy students. This pioneering approach was the first initiative of its kind and has set a precedent, often aspired to in speech and language therapy student training.

Dr Harding was recruited as the sole speech and language therapist committee member for NICE guidelines for developmental follow-up of babies and young people born prematurely, playing an important role in distilling relevant research for clinicians working in this area. She has also been a RCSLT advisor in paediatric dysphagia for many years.