A WOMAN who dedicated more than three decades to helping people quit smoking through the NHS has retired.

Sonja Edwards, who was born in Barry and now lives in Llantwit Major, helped numerous people stop smoking during her 35 years as a smoking cessation counsellor.

She was the first NHS-paid hospital smoking cessation counsellor to be appointed in the UK, helping inpatients, outpatients and staff at Llandough Hospital, Barry Hospital, and UHW.

Barry And District News:

Ms Edwards was also involved in setting up a UK group for smoking cessation counsellors to help share knowledge and has conducted and presented research in the UK and abroad.

Ms Edwards said: “I have enjoyed every day of my working life and it has been a privilege to work alongside my colleagues and help and support people through their smoking cessation journey. 

“I am proud that the service continues to provide its high standard, personalised, intensive behavioural counselling support programme.”

Ms Edwards has shown dedication to her role – in 2013 she retired but returned on a voluntary basis to help the service. Since 2014, she has reduced her working hours but has continued to support those in need.  

Honorary Consultant Physician at Llandough, Dr Ian Campbell, has worked with Ms Edwards throughout the years.

He described her as “a warm, humorous, empathic, friendly and hard-working person, who was ideal for the role of advising and supporting patients to quit smoking.”

“In so doing for 35 years she improved and saved the lives of many patients in Cardiff and the Vale, as well as helping to encourage many other NHS hospitals to appoint smoking cessation counsellors,” said Dr Campbell

“Well known and liked in Llandough and across the UK, she has been an inspirational pioneer who helped spread nationally and internationally the gospel that stopping smoking is an important part of the treatment of many diseases, especially heart disease and lung diseases."

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board’s smoking cessation service is hospital-based and offers one-to-one long term intensive behavioural support.

You can make an appointment by contacting:

  • Helen.Poole@wales.nhs.uk
  • Tel: 029 2074 3582 (University Hospital of Wales)
  • Tel:  029 2071 5420 (University Hospital Llandough)