LESLEY Rudd is a former nurse from Farnham Common who has helped protect more than 800,000 young children from abuse.
After reading about about horrific stories of abuse suffered by children in South Africa in 2004, Lesley Rudd set up the Infant Trust to help protect vulnerable children from brutality and violence and help prevent infant rape.
The trust focuses on empowering people to identify possible abuse and act on their suspicions, proving training in running crèches as places of safety and healthy development and has now worked in five of the poorest provinces.
All of the projects are run in partnership with local groups and organisations to ensure sustainability, and Lesley has been proactive in all of the projects.
Their flagship Caring for Crèches programme, developed with Childline South Africa, is a free sixday training programme which instructs crèche leaders and carers in child care, health, nutrition and how to recognise and react appropriately to suspected abuse.
This programme has trained around 2,200 women, identified more than 3,000 children who have been abandoned and/or abused, helped to protect over 106,000 small children and others in their families and communities.
Lesley also supports numerous other projects which include providing therapy and support programmes for children and their families who have suffered abuse along with a project which collects toys to pass on to traumatised young children.
The Infant Trust also runs training courses for community volunteers and social workers, and carries out research into the crimes.
Former prime minister David Cameron said: “With the Infant Trust Lesley has empowered thousands of women across South Africa to protect and safeguard children in their communities.
“The education and training she has provided has helped to improve the lives of over 800,000 children, tackling the violence and abuse that affects too many of them in their early years. I am delighted to recognise all that Lesley has done with the UK’s 489th Point of Light.”
Lesley said: “It is a huge honour to be given this award in recognition of the work we have been doing for 11 years.
“Whilst our focus is always on how we can work to help protect more children, and help to break the cycle of violence against the most vulnerable in South Africa it is very rewarding to have our work recognised in the UK.”