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Professors Peter Fonagy and Eamon McCrory to advise Princess of Wales and the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood

Two senior leaders from the Anna Freud Centre have been appointed to offer strategic advice to The Princess of Wales and provide oversight of the work of her Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood.

Professor Peter Fonagy OBE, Chief Executive of the Anna Freud Centre, and Professor Eamon McCrory, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Director of Education and Training, join a group of six other experts from across academia, science and the early years sector appointed to the Advisory Group.

The group met with Her Royal Highness, Patron of the Anna Freud Centre, for the first time at Windsor Castle on Wednesday. They will go on to support The Princess and her Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood as work is accelerated to promote the fundamental importance of the first five years of a child’s life.

Professor Fonagy said: “I am delighted to have been invited by The Princess of Wales to join the Advisory Group that will help to shape the work of her Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood. Through working with Her Royal Highness in her role as Patron of the Anna Freud Centre, I have seen up close her dedication to the mental health and wellbeing of children in their early years, which has been an inspiration to many.

“Through publishing new research, providing exceptional training and delivering therapeutic treatments for young children and families, the Anna Freud Centre advances our understanding of a child’s early years in determining their life chances and the interventions that can make a difference. By working closely with the Princess alongside expert Advisory Group colleagues, I look forward to developing this work further and helping to transform the lives of children and young people.”

Professor McCrory said: "It is a privilege to have been invited to be part of the Centre for Early Childhood’s Advisory Group. In recent years Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales, has successfully spearheaded a focus on the first five years of life as a crucial period in development. She recognises that by transforming the lives of children, parents and carers during these formative years there is the potential to build solid foundations for lifelong physical and mental health. This work is entirely aligned with the priorities of the Anna Freud Centre and our focus on prevention. I am truly excited at the potential to bring together our collective knowledge of research and innovative clinical practice to improve the lives of the next generation.”

The group will support the delivery of the Centre for Early Childhood’s work in commissioning new research, learning from best practice in the UK and globally, and raising awareness of the extraordinary impact the first five years of life have on future outcomes. Advisory Group members have been chosen for their deep expertise in a range of areas including neuroscience, psychology, perinatal psychiatry, early years services and policy development.

Several of those involved, including Professors Fonagy and McCrory, have already played a pivotal role in the work The Princess of Wales has been pursuing for more than a decade in this field, helping her to shape her work on the issue and adding to her determination to help change the way people think about early childhood. They are joined on the Advisory Group by senior figures from organisations including the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Nuffield Foundation and Action for Children.

Amanda Berry, Chief Executive of The Royal Foundation said: "Working with such an eminent group of people is an absolute privilege. I know their advice and experience is hugely valued by The Princess, and the whole Centre for Early Childhood team, as we continue to drive awareness of, and action on, the transformative impact of the early years.

“The Advisory Group’s support in our key areas of research, collaboration and awareness raising will be invaluable and I look forward to working closely with them to make a difference for generations to come.

The Centre for Early Childhood has launched a new campaign, Shaping Us, to raise awareness of why early childhood matters to everyone. Find out more on its new website

Find out more about the Anna Freud Centre's Early Years work.