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Gretel returns to research after volunteering at Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust


Dr Gretel Finch has been able to return to her career in research thanks to the help and support she received whilst volunteering at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RD&E).

Having worked as a Research Scientist for many years, including posts at the BBSRC Institute of Food Research and the University of Bristol, Gretel took a career break to care for her young family.  During this time she helped set up a breast feeding support group and trained as a Peer Support Counsellor.

In the summer of 2012, Gretel was keen to return to her research career but wanted to build up her confidence and experience again. She approached RD&E Infant Feeding Coordinators Charlotte Kilvington and Karen Read to discuss volunteering opportunities and soon Gretel was using her research skills and Peer Support experience to help them with their medical audit into Tongue-tie intervention. Whilst volunteering she has also been able to gain clinical practice hours towards her International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) training.

Gretel’s work on the audit was also beneficial for the staff at the RD&E, as it helped lighten the workload of the Infant Feeding Coordinators and enabled the Maxillofacial Surgeons to evaluate the effectiveness of their Tongue-tie surgery. She has since presented the audit findings at several conferences and an abstract is due to be published in the journal ‘Appetite’ soon. 

Gretel said:  “My time volunteering at the RD&E significantly increased my confidence, skills and experience after such a long career break to apply for a Research Fellowship in maternal eating behaviour at the University of Bristol through the Daphne Jackson Trust, which I was awarded in February 2014.”

“The RD&E has been an amazing environment to work in and it has been a privilege to work with such dedicated and hardworking professionals, including those from the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Research Design Service and the Exeter Health Library.”

The Daphne Jackson Trust is an organisation dedicated to helping scientists and engineers return to research following a career break. The unique combination of mentoring, retraining and research the Daphne Jackson Fellowship provides, gives Fellows the confidence and skills they need to return to their career and compete for research positions. Find out more by visiting


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