Ipswich alumna Dr Cheryll Adams (nee Howells) awarded CBE in Queen’s 90th birthday honours

The founding director of the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV), Dr Cheryll Adams, is to become a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) after being named in Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday Honours List.

Cheryll, an alumna of Ipswich High School, has been working in family and public health for more than 30 years and was selected for the honour in recognition of her contribution to the health visiting profession and the important role it plays in improving outcomes for children, families and communities.

She co-founded the iHV in 2012 to raise standards in health visiting through research and education, and to reduce inequalities in health by ensuring every family receives a universally high quality of care.

David Cameron, the Department of Health and the Royal Society of Public Health supported its foundation, and Cheryll has since grown the organisation to more than 9,000 members.

Cheryll has worked with the government on a number of initiatives to improve children’s lives and currently sits on the NSPCC’s research ethics committee. She is also an adviser for UNICEF Europe: supporting the introduction of a health visiting-type role into 22 countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. She previously supported the government of Kazakhstan to introduce the profession there. 

Cheryll began her career as a nurse at London’s St George’s Hospital, before qualifying as a health visitor and working in practice in Rowlands Castle and Emsworth in Hampshire for almost 20 years. During this time, she championed the causes of vulnerable families, promoting emotional and social health in isolated communities and spending her weekends running community drives to improve child safety.

For 11 years, Cheryll worked for the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association (CPHVA), including as lead professional officer, representing 18,000 members in a national and international context. During her time there she regularly represented health visiting in the media and at conferences around the globe, as well as writing and editing six books and publishing more than 60 papers on key topics. She continues to be a regular contributor to a number of health journals.

Her core professional interest is in infant and maternal mental health, as well as mental health promotion. For example, with CPHVA, she led a campaign to improve access to perinatal depression support for ethnic minority women, by publishing booklets in their mother tongues. 

Her previous honours include being named an ‘Inspirational Clinical Leader in Nursing’ (Nursing Times, 2015), ‘One of the 50 Most Inspirational Women in Healthcare’ (Health Services Journal 2014) and becoming one of the first six nurses to be inducted into the ‘Nursing Hall of Fame’ (Nursing Times 2010).

After Cheryll’s time at Ipswich High School, she went on to study at the University of Surrey. She has an MSc in Health Promotion and Health Education from the University of Southampton and a Professional Doctorate in Nursing from the University of Portsmouth. Whilst growing up in Suffolk where she still has family, she now lives in Emsworth, Hampshire with her husband and has two grown-up children.