Eric Foskett Award 2016 - Awarded to Stephen James Cooper
Stephen Cooper was elected to the post of IFEH Honorary Treasurer at the IFEH AGM in Paisley, Scotland on 31 May 2003. In the thirteen years since his election, Steve has made an enormous contribution to the efficient running and expansion of the IFEH. Besides undertaking the task of honorary treasurer he has taken on many other tasks on a voluntary basis; these are outlined below.
Steve qualified as an Environmental Health Officer in Belfast in 1974. He was elected a Fellow in 2000 and awarded Chartered Status in 2003; the first year it was available. His colleagues in Northern Ireland say that his passion for and belief in this profession is unmatched. He was instrumental in establishing a regular annual conference with colleagues in what is now the Environmental Health Association of Ireland (EHAI, formerly EHOA) during the 1970s when cross-border cooperation on the island of Ireland was not the norm. Steve’s contribution to this achievement was recognised many years ago when EHAI awarded him lifetime honorary membership of EHAI. He was the first person they conferred such an honour on, and to this day there are still only three people who have received this honour.
Steve is an elected trustee of the CIEH and has been for several years. He was previously the Chair of its Education Board. He has shown the same passion and commitment for the education and training of environmental health practitioners across the world as he has in the UK.
Steve has made a significant contribution to the development of environmental health in Tanzania, and in particular the establishment of the third level education programme, supported by the resourcing of the Clarence Phoenix Library in the University of Dar es Salaam in 2001. The importance of this project becomes more evident when one reflects upon the fact that in Tanzania in 1999 life expectancy at birth was 42.53 years, infant mortality rate was 109 deaths/1000 live births, cholera, typhoid fever and malaria were rife, AIDS and TB were on the increase, children died from measles, diphtheria and diarrhoea, many people had no safe water to drink and no sanitation. Steve maintains an interest in this project and visits whenever possible.
Steve has carried out his duties as IFEH honorary treasurer in an exemplary manner. By regular contact Steve has attracted many new member organisations and has ensured that countries with low incomes are not excluded. He has worked with more affluent member organisations to ensure sponsorship for associations struggling to pay the annual subscriptions. He has also been instrumental in ensuring the smooth operation of the Hedgerow Bursary. This sponsorship from a Canadian company provides finance for representatives of member organisations to attend the annual IFEH Council meetings.
In addition to his role as treasurer, Steve has supported EFEH members by acting as secretary when both CvK in the Netherlands and BVLK in Germany were chairing the group. This entailed working with the current Chair in finding venues for EFEH meetings, preparing agendas and minutes. Jan Homma from the Dutch CvK comments, ‘Steve is a very good person to work with. He is sharp, listens well and at the same time gives advice at the right moment, making the work as chair so much easier (especially if English is not the Chair’s mother language). Due to his unique recording system, his minutes are almost the exact wording of the meeting. Steve is always busy somewhere and with something, always smiling and also having a positive attitude that immediately infecting other people around him. This reflects on the EFEH that has gained greatly in strength and is still growing.’
In relation to this nomination a colleague on the IFEH Board commented, ‘Steve does a mountain of work for the IFEH which is not only unseen but far in excess of his remit as Honorary Treasurer’.