Inspirational speech therapist up for Health Hero award

AN inspirational speech and language therapist is in the running for a Health Hero award for transforming the life of a little boy with autism.

Speech therapist Hilary Cowie with Paula McLear and her sons Aiden and Kian. Picture Jon Savage
Speech therapist Hilary Cowie with Paula McLear and her sons Aiden and Kian. Picture Jon Savage

Kian McLear, six, was struggling to express himself and to cope with day-to-day issues such as sleeping before he started seeing Hilary Cowie in between his lessons at Broughton Primary School.

Working with Hilary over the past 18 months has made a significant difference to his ability to express himself, said mum Paula, who has nominated the experienced speech therapist to be this year’s NHS Lothian Health Hero.

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Paula, 42, from Leith, said: “I have worked with so many health professionals with my boys and Hilary has just been the one who goes that extra mile.

“She seems to really care, and not just because it’s her job. She is lovely and she goes far and beyond her duty.”

As well as seeing Kian at school, Hilary has also worked with Paula’s other son Aiden, seven, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and is being tested for autism.

Using a range of exercises, Hilary helps children to be more easily understood when they speak, supporting them to develop their language skills and helping them to express their understanding of different aspects of daily life.

Paula, who works part-time as a cleaner, said: “I asked her for some advice one day at school and she has helped me so much.

“Kian absolutely loves her. He’s really come along in the last year. He could speak, but he found it hard to express what he meant.

“Now he’s finding things so much better.”

The Evening News wants to find the unsung heroes of the health service, whether its an exceptional breast cancer surgeon, a committed diabetes nurse or a counsellor who helped during difficult times.

Hilary, who has worked with children for more than 20 years, said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have been nominated, it’s very special. I am just doing my job but it is lovely to have the recognition.

“My job is a huge privilege and I think it’s really exciting to see the changes that can be made in people’s lives.

“I have been privileged to have a very close relationship with Paula and to work with her and her children. She’s a fantastic example of how we can work really well with parents.”

The closing date for entries for the NHS Lothian Celebrating Success Awards is April 8.