Leading UK midwife ‘proud to receive award on behalf of all those working in maternity services’
The Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has expressed her joy and delight at being appointed a CBE in the Queen’s Jubilee Honours. Gill Walton, who receives the award for services to midwifery, said it is a reflection of the importance of midwifery.
“I am truly honoured to have been appointed a CBE by Her Majesty The Queen, and I am so proud to receive the award on behalf of midwives and maternity support workers and for all those working in maternity services. Every day, women and families across the country are supported and cared for through pregnancy, labour, birth and in the postnatal period by passionate, committed staff. Being a midwife is something I feel in my core, so to receive this award for services to midwifery is both humbling and gratifying.”
Before joining the RCM as Chief Executive and General Secretary in 2017, Gill had over 30 years’ experience of delivering care and leading maternity services. Always an advocate for woman-centred care, Gill is passionate about the difference midwives can make for women as their advocates and their experience of childbirth.
“Midwives make a difference. They support women and families at some of the most joyous, but also some of the most anxious, times. The past few years have been really tough for maternity services, and the challenges continue, yet midwives and maternity support workers keep going, keep supporting those in their care, and keep striving for safe, high quality care. I’m so proud to be part of this profession, to be leading it. Having this recognised by Her Majesty in such a special year is just fantastic.”
Initially trained as a nurse in London before completing her midwifery training in Southampton, Gill has led maternity services across London and the south of England. She has often been called upon to advise on improvement programmes within maternity services, including as Maternity Improvement Director at NHS Improvement to support Morecambe Bay following the Kirkup report in 2015.
As RCM Chief Executive and General Secretary, Gill has been instrumental in ensuring that the voices of the College’s 50,000 members are heard by policy-makers across the UK. Her collaborative approach, working with partners across maternity services, from clinicians to service users, has made the RCM a trusted voice in maternity reform. The One Voice partnership, established by Gill alongside the past president of the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists, brings together organisations working in and around maternity care to offer a solution-focused approach to the challenges facing services – something which has never been more needed than now.
Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive and Registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) said:
“I’m so pleased to see Gill Walton honoured with a CBE. Gill is a fantastic leader of the midwifery profession and has made a huge difference to improving maternity services for the benefit of women, their babies and families, not least in supporting the development and implementation of the NMC’s Future Midwife standards. Gill has been tireless in her advocacy for the important role of midwives, has not been afraid to challenge and change, is lovely to work with and thoroughly deserves this recognition.”
Gill’s strength lies in her recognition of challenges and the will to overcome them. It is this that led to the RCM’s acknowledgement that the College has historically not done enough for Black, Asian and minority ethnic midwives and maternity support workers. She established the RCM’s Race Matters programme, which seeks to provide more and better targeted support for RCM members of colour as well as Black and Asian pregnant women.
Karen Jewell, Chief Midwifery Officer for Wales, said:
“I am so delighted that Gill has been honoured on this very special occasion. Gill is a strong advocate for midwives and families and since joining the RCM has also brought together the four nations, championing leadership at every level and more recently providing guidance and support in the pandemic. This is extremely well deserved and I would like to congratulate her today.”
Sascha Wells-Munro, England’s Deputy Chief Midwifery Officer, said:
“I am delighted to see that Gill has been rewarded in Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee honours for all of her hard work and dedicated service on behalf of midwives. Midwives work tirelessly across the country to support expectant and new Mums, their babies and families, and it is wonderful to see Gill being recognised for all her support and leadership at the RCM.”
To contact the RCM Media Office call 020 7312 3456, or email [email protected]
Notes to editors
- Gill Walton has been Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives for almost five years. She was previously Director of Midwifery and maternity Services at Portsmouth Hospital Trust (2011-2017), Director of Midwifery at Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust (2007-2011) and Director of Midwifery at Barking, Havering & Redbridge University NHS Trust (2004-2007).
- Gill, 59, is married to Karen, and has two children and two grandchildren.
About the RCM
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance, and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences, and online resources. For more information visit the RCM | A professional organisation and trade union dedicated to serving the whole midwifery team.