06 Dec 2021

Fiona Huffer is the Chief Allied Health Professional at West Lothian Health & Social Care Partnership. Fiona was awarded a BDA Fellowship in 2021.

We asked what it means to have won the award.

What does it mean to you to have been awarded with the Fellowship honour?  

I am surprised and delighted to have been awarded this recognition by my professional association. I chose my vocation at the age of 14 to be a dietitian. I have been a member of the BDA since my first week as a student at Queen Margaret College in Edinburgh. The BDA introduced the Fellowship Award during my student years and the list of Fellows awarded over the last 40+ years is an impressive list of the very best in Dietetics. I am humbled to be considered in the same list. 

What drove you to become a dietitian in the first place and be where you are today?

I had an interest in science and wanted to work with people in healthcare. My friend's sister Rosemary Farries was a dietitian. I also visited my local hospital dietitians Mrs Collins and Mrs Brown ( no first names then!) who inspired me to study Dietetics straight from school. I have never regretted my choice of career, which is ongoing having recently celebrated 40 years of working full time as a dietitian in the NHS. 

Who would you say inspires you both dietetically but also non-dietetically?

The BDA and my colleagues in Dietetics continue to inspire me. I learned a lot from the late Alison Dobson, who was Chair and Fellow of BDA and a great colleague. The late Dr John Munro, Consultant Physician, was such an advocate for my profession and became my mentor. My mum is my inspiration, who like me was an elderly mum and worked hard, loved life and lived to 94.

What advice would you give to future dietitians? 

This is a wonderful profession that will offer you a career that is truly fulfilling. It can lead to many opportunities, grasp them all! Have fun, work hard, make a difference - and above all, be kind.

What has been the highlight of your dietetic career to date?

Many, 40 years is a long time! I enjoy travel, learning and sharing best practice so attending national and international meetings is always a thrill for me, such as presenting the BDA Standards of Practice at the European Federation of Dietitians in Denmark. Also, writing the chapter on spinal injury nutrition in the Manual of Dietetic Practice, winning the BDA Rose Simmonds Award for my publication on maternal PKU, being on the BDA Roll of Honour for my contribution to the Investigatory Committee, and gaining my MBA through studying with the Open University.

During my undergrad education, I was a social work department Care Assistant in Dumfries, caring for frail people in their own home and volunteered for Diabetes UK children's holidays for very young children with type 1 diabetes. This was in another century, but were highlights that strengthened my skills and experience of living with health and social care needs that a dietitian could support in self-management.

I have been so grateful to have been working during the pandemic and leading a team of dedicated dietitians, it has been such a privilege. My most recent highlight is being appointed to Chief AHP in West Lothian Health & Social Care Partnership, which is a new challenge.