Cleft Lip and Palate Association

The Cleft Lip and Palate Association also known as CLAPA is a charity registered in England and is the only UK-wide voluntary organisation specifically helping those with, and affected by, cleft lip and palate.

Cleft Lip and Palate Association
UK Charity No1108160
First registered1979
Expenditure 2006/7

CLAPA was established in 1979 as a partnership between health professionals and parents of children with cleft lip and palate. It provides support for new parents, for people with the condition and their families, from infancy through to adulthood.

The organisations head office is in London and there are 26 CLAPA branches (all run by volunteers) throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland, each providing support to families affected by cleft lip and/or palate. The branches are run by people who have themselves benefited from the organisation, often working in partnership with local health professionals.


The main aims of CLAPA are:

  • To organise local parent-to-parent support through its nationwide network of branches
  • To run a specialist service for parents and health professionals seeking help feeding babies with clefts
  • To develop support for children and adolescents affected by clefts at school and in social settings through such activities as confidence-building camps
  • To encourage and support research into causes and treatment of cleft lip and palate
  • To represent the interests of patients and parents, influencing policy on future treatment of cleft lip and palate
  • To conduct educational seminars for health professionals and the general public
  • to raise funds in the community for equipment, literature and services
  • To publish and distribute a range of information leaflets to increase public awareness of the condition
  • To support projects in countries where cleft treatment is limited or unavailable

BAFTAs controversy

At BAFTA Television Awards at the London Palladium Theatre in London on 20 May 2007, when presenting Ricky Gervais with the award for best comedy performance Joan Rivers made a joke referring to the statuette as a "Jew with a harelip". CLAPA Chief Executive Gareth Davies wrote directly to BAFTA to express his "serious disappointment" at the incident and he said that "many people found the old-fashioned term "harelip" highly offensive and that "making the condition the subject of a cheap joke was simply hurtful"

Rivers said that she was extremely sorry for any offence caused as this had certainly not been her intention. Amanda Berry, BAFTA Chief Executive, stated that the Academy would "never set out to offend nor make fun of anyone".

On their website CLAPA said it was pleased to receive the apologies but is aware that too many people are still ill-informed about what cleft lip and palate is and what it is not. They added that this ignorance can often feed into prejudice and the media and those in the public eye have a key role in helping us de-stigmatise the condition.


Carol Vorderman is the current patron of CLAPA. She got involved with the charity because her older brother, Anton, was born with a cleft lip and palate. He had treatment at Alder Hay Hospital in Merseyside and life was not always easy for him or his family. He is the first to acknowledge that it was his family that carried him through all the difficult times and he is now a successful businessman based in the Netherlands. He retains strong links with his home town, Prestatyn, in North Wales, and last year was the guest of honour at a ball put on by CLAPA Merseyside.

Board of trustees

The governing body of CLAPA is a board of trustees who are volunteers. The board is a mix of people affected by cleft lip and/or palate (with a cleft or parent of a child with a cleft) and health professionals involved in the care of people born with cleft lip and palate. Trustees are selected on the basis of what skills they can bring to the charity and vacancies are advertised in the national press.

Current trustees

Dermot Coleman (Chair)Investment Manager
Arthur Winn (Treasurer)Pricing Manager for British Telecom
Helen LangfordNurse
Milan TaylorSenior Director, Sweet & Maxwell
Emma SouthbyClinical Nurse Specialist
Ginette PhippenSpeech and Language Therapist
Bernard NymanLawyer
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