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Tireless fighter and Mum of the year winner from Haywards Heath is Local Hero
The death of her child sparked this dedicated mother to embark on nearly two decades of campaigning to improve medical practices.
Jane Plumb, 55, from Haywards Heath, has worked tirelessly for 17 years to raise awareness of the potentially fatal Group B Strep (GBS) infection in the UK.
The charity chief executive, who has just been named Tesco Mum of the Year for 2014, lost her son Theo to the infection shortly after he was born in 1996.
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GBS affects more children in the UK than Spina Bifida but testing for the infection is not available as part of ante-natal care in the UK. Every year about 500 babies suffer from it and around 50 of them will die.
Jane said: “Theo was born nearly 15 weeks early and his doctors told us GBS had most likely contributed to his death.
“I had never heard of it.
“We did some research and found GBS is actually as common, or even more common, than conditions like spina bifida yet far fewer women have heard of it and testing is not offered as part of routine ante-natal care.
“We had so many questions, like whether I could have another baby, but there was so little information about Group B Strep for parents then.”
The charity’s efforts have contributed to the first national guidelines on GBS being published in 2003 and a public consultation on screening in 2012.
Although routine testing of the infection is not currently funded, Jane is now campaigning to change that in three years time, when it can be revisited.
Jane, who is also mum to Oliver, 21, and Camilla, 15, was awarded an MBE by Prince Charles in 2012 for her work.
Jane said: “Sometimes I hear from parents who say the information we gave them meant their babies were born free from GBS infection and it all seems worthwhile.
“It’s for those babies, babies like Theo, that we’ll keep campaigning and raising awareness.”
She will be presented with her Tesco Mum of the Year award at The Savoy hotel in London on March 23.
She was nominated by her son Oliver and beat thousands of other nominations from across the UK.
For more information on Group B Strep Support visit www.gbss.org.uk.
Details on Tesco Mum of the Year can be found at www.tesco.com/living.
Hundreds of heroes go almost unnoticed in our local communities.
But The Argus is determined to give them the recognition they thoroughly deserve.
We have teamed up with housing repair and maintenance company Mears to launch our weekly Local Heroes Award.
We are inviting readers to nominate their candidates and tell us why they have put them forward for the award.
Contact Ben Leo on 01273 544682 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.