A MIDWIFE who helped new mothers keep in touch with loved-ones through their pregnancies and births has been recognised by the Queen.

Her Majesty has award former senior midwifery manager Kelly Pierce with an MBE for her sterling work at St Richards and Worthing hospitals.

Kelly created the Family Assist digital app, a one-stop shop of information for parents and families.

She said the digital portal replaced “mountains and mountains” of leaflets, and has allowed families to keep in touch in ways which had not been possible before.

When Britain went into lockdown at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March last year, the portal made a huge difference.

Kelly was recommended for an honour by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and has been awarded an MBE for services to the National Health Service.

She is now the head of service for early health and prevention, and consultant midwife in public health at Solent NHS Trust and Portsmouth City Council.

“I was so shocked when I received the news in an email, “ she said. “I thought it was spam to begin with.

The Argus: Kelly Pierce has been made an MBE for her services to the NHS in SussexKelly Pierce has been made an MBE for her services to the NHS in Sussex

“It is such an honour to be recognised in this way. I don’t even know who nominated me but I am so humbled that they did and that I have been chosen to receive this award from the Queen.

“I may be the one who is being recognised but it is the whole team who deserve one just as much for everything they have done, especially this past 18 months. I am overwhelmed.”

Kelly came up with the idea of Family Assist in 2012 but the idea only got funding in 2017 when Family Assist was developed as a joint partnership between Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust and West Sussex County Council.

Kelly said: “I just thought that expectant parents and new parents are bombarded with leaflets and information throughout their child birth journey.

“I thought there must be an easier and better way of people receiving the right information at the right time and in the right way and the right place."

The service can be accessed at any time, from a phone, tablet or PC, and will also send key pieces of information by email which is sent to registered users at the relevant stages throughout pregnancy and the early stages of a child's life according to a mother's due date or the age of a child.

Kelly said: “I often would say when speaking about Family Assist at conferences that it is a model that would really show its worth if ever there was a pandemic. Because it would connect families, around one of the most important events like having a baby.

“Unfortunately, we got a pandemic but Family Assist has proved such a force for good.

“There were lots of really, really worried expectant parents, lots of really concerned new parents and of course all their loved ones around them."

The Argus: St Richard's Hospital in ChichesterSt Richard's Hospital in Chichester

University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust chief Marianne Griffiths said: “The MBE is an accolade Kelly richly deserves.

“Family Assist was a wonderful creation when we first began using the service in 2017 but when the pandemic came and all our worlds changed so drastically, it proved to be utterly invaluable to thousands of vulnerable mothers to be, new parents and their families.

“Kelly’s work, and that of all her team, the way they adapted on a daily basis, the way they innovated and faced the daily challenges in a way that always ensured the patient’s care was truly first was inspirational. I wholeheartedly congratulate her.”