Our Team

All our information is written by our team of healthcare professionals who freely give their time to help us make a difference.

Heidi Eldridge

Heidi Eldridge (she/her)

Founder & CEO

In May 2009 my first son, Aidan, was stillborn. My life was completely turned upside down and I had no idea that babies were still dying in the UK, or how common it is. I later learnt that 6,500 babies die in the UK every year and there are precautions mums can take and warning signs to be aware of to help reduce the risk of stillbirth. I joined forces with my local maternity team to set up MAMA Academy to help more babies arrive safely. Receiving positive feedback that you’re making a difference is the most rewarding thing in the world. Midwives have told us that our information prompted mums to get checked sooner than they may otherwise have done and they’d been able to deliver their baby safe and well. Supporting mums through such a special time in their lives is a massive privilege and a passion that will always drive my commitment to saving babies lives.

Heidi was awarded an Inspirational Award in 2014 and was a Tesco Mum of The Year finalist in 2015.

Dora Woolway (she/her)

Head of Fundraising

Dora is MAMA Academy’s Fundraising Manager and mum to Summer and Lily.

Summer was a growth-restricted baby, which came to light after Dora attended the hospital one night, prompted by her MAMA Academy Wellbeing Wallet, as her baby wasn’t moving as much as she usually did.

Summer was then delivered safely, and Dora has been grateful to the charity ever since.

Dora has nearly a decade-long experience in the charity sector, working as a Fundraising Manager for various charities such as Kent, Sussex and Surrey Air Ambulance and Kent Association for the Blind before joining MAMA Academy in 2022. She loves to come up with fun, engaging and exciting events to raise awareness and income and overseeing the charity’s community and corporate partnerships. She is passionate about giving the best experience to all of our lovely supporters and volunteers.

If you are interested in fundraising for MAMA Academy, we would love to hear from you.

Get in touch with Dora at dora@mamaacademy.org.uk

Beth Reay (she/her)

Marketing & Communications

Beth is the Marketing and Communications manager for MAMA academy. Joining the team at the beginning of 2024 from a rich background spanning both startup ventures and corporate marketing, she brings a unique blend of innovation and commercial knowledge to her role.

Beth’s journey into the world of working with charities began during her university years, where she actively participated in fundraising events with her society. It was during this time that she discovered a profound sense of purpose in making a tangible difference, a sentiment that continues to inspire her commitment to serving within the charity sector.

At the core of Beth’s work lies a deep-seated belief in the power of effective communication to effect meaningful change. She is dedicated to leveraging her skills to amplify the mission of MAMA academy and combat stillbirth by supporting families through education and awareness initiatives.

Should you wish to discuss anything marketing and communications related, you can connect with her at: beth@mamaacademy.org.uk.

Claire Baggaley (She/Her)

Trust Partnerships Manager

Claire worked in sales and business development for over 14 years and has a real passion for sales and coaching. Outside of work, she is a life coach – specialising in baby loss and neurodiversity in children. She has 2 beautiful children, her sunshine and rainbow, both born at 29 weeks. Claire suffered a miscarriage in 2012, and at the time she was young and made to feel like it was ‘normal. She is proud of how far we have come since then and is proud to be working with MAMA Academy to help women and birthing people who have suffered a loss at any stage.

Trustees:

Amanda Bastianelli, Dip HE Mid / PGC Med Imaging (she/her)

Chair

Amanda Bastianelli is a qualified midwife, expert sonographer, and business owner of a health clinic providing fertility, pregnancy and new parent services including specialist ultrasound scans, blood tests and pregnancy and baby classes.

Amanda qualified in 2000 and during her time working for the NHS, went on to practice obstetric ultrasound specialising in fetal medicine.

She soon developed a huge passion for offering professional support for families experiencing medical concerns in pregnancy and supporting parents following stillbirth and loss.

Due to her vast experience and expertise, Amanda helped to implement the Growth Assessment Protocol within the NHS, an agreement working with the Perinatal Institute to educate health professionals in the detection and monitoring of fetal growth restriction to reduce stillbirths in the UK.

In 2016, alongside her NHS role she opened her private health clinic Expectancy Scanning Studios in Sittingbourne, Kent, offering fertility, pregnancy support and medical ultrasound services to families outside the NHS. She has since partnered with other health institutes including Harley Street Fertility Clinic, Care Fertility and many more specialist pregnancy and new parent services to offer parents the very best in perinatal health resources.

Amanda has won a number of awards for her services including Service Excellence Awards & Businesswoman of the Year 2023 and at the Kent Women in Business Awards.

She has also featured in the local press for her work and contributed to various articles of interest in ultrasound and screening.

Driven by her passion to support families who have experienced baby loss and inspired by the work Mama Academy achieves, Amanda introduced a complimentary Forget Me Not Service to her clinic, helping parents who are faced with the difficult decision to end their pregnancy for medical reasons due to a life-threatening condition.

After supporting and collaborating with Mama Academy for many years, Amanda is delighted to be appointed as a Trustee.

“I am excited to work with Heidi and all the team at MAMA Academy. This charity holds a special place in my heart, and I look forward to seeing what fantastic work we can accomplish together, supporting and educating health professionals and families who need us most.”

 

Robin Meltzer (he/him)

Trustee

Robin Meltzer is the Deputy Chief Executive for the Royal Free Charity and previously Director of Fundraising for the national medical research charity Brain Tumour Research. He has also been a political campaigner and fundraiser, previously serving as Vice Chair of the London Liberal Democrats. He has won several awards for his political work, including the Clean Air in London Award for his efforts to tackle air pollution in the capital.

As a former BBC Worldwide senior television producer for international formats, Robin was responsible for co-productions, including Strictly Come Dancing in over thirty countries worldwide. Robin has an interest in education and has served as a governor at a school for children with profound and multiple special needs.

Robin had been aware of and followed the work of MAMA Academy since its inception, keeping in contact with the Charity’s founder, Heidi Eldridge and offering occasional campaigning and fundraising advice. He is delighted to have been appointed a trustee of the charity.

Carly McDonald (she/her)

Trustee

I studied Midwifery at Nottingham University, qualifying in 2006 and returning home to Cambridgeshire to commence my career, working between the community and hospital settings. I relished the opportunity to complete the Obstetric Ultrasound course in 2009, scanning and practising as a Midwife on the Maternity Day Assessment Unit for many years. During this time, bereavement care became my primary focus and in 2018 I was appointed as the Bereavement Specialist Midwife, a new role created at the Trust.

Throughout my career I have prioritised my role in health promotion. I regularly update local guidelines and care pathways in response to research findings and health policy and participate in the implementation of the Saving Babies Lives Care Bundle.

I am a lead reporter for MBRRACE and Each Baby Counts projects and responsible for ensuring that stillbirths and neonatal deaths are analysed using the Perinatal Mortality Review Tool, disseminating action plans in response to findings.

I am committed to providing woman-centred, personalised care thus identifying and responding to women’s individual needs and wishes and empowering clients by providing them with honest and thorough information. I believe in promoting midwife-led services and continuity of care, in order to achieve the concept of ‘with woman’, supporting informed choices and acting as an advocate for clients.

I have completed a mentorship course, facilitated health promotion seminars in schools and provide annual bereavement care updates for medical and midwifery staff. My work as a Supervisor of Midwives enabled me to network with colleagues working at other Trusts and fulfil my desire to support the professional development of my peers and provision of safe, holistic care. I regard lifelong learning as fundamental, evident in my proactive approach towards organising bereavement care study days.

I work within a multidisciplinary team and have built supportive relationships with baby loss groups, charities and volunteers to enhance the care provided to families. I devote time to fundraising activities, facilitate a local bereavement steering group and support our ‘Maternity Voices’ representatives to ensure the views of service users are recognised.

I have a keen interest in the work of MAMA Academy and recognise the way in which the organisation proactively and compassionately engages with supporters.

I enjoy spending time with my young family, playing at our local parks and visiting new places.

Laura Alexander (she/her)

Trustee

I am delighted to have been invited to be a trustee of MAMA Academy and hope to bring both my professional skillset and personal experiences to assist Heidi and the team in delivery of the charity’s vision.

I first met Heidi and was introduced to MAMA Academy following the death of my second son in February 2019. Benjamin died shortly after he was born, having contracted Cytomegalovirus during my pregnancy, a virus I knew nothing about until a few weeks before.
Since then, alongside working with a bereaved parent support group, a vital lifeline to many of those affected, I have been able to assist in fundraising to support the provision of MAMA Academy Wellbeing Wallets across Hampshire and am passionate about the importance of providing both maternity professionals and expectant parents with as much information as possible to help more babies arrive safely.

Professionally, I am a CFO, having worked in corporate and private equity businesses over the last 20 years. As a Chartered Accountant, I have spent much of my career leading finance teams both large and small in the UK and internationally, across global listed organisations and smaller fast growing businesses, and have been an executive Board member in organisations across a number of industries.

Marisa Kamall (She/Her)

Trustee

I am delighted to be a trustee of MAMA Academy. My journey with MAMA began when Heidi and I connected over LinkedIn, following a post where I expressed my desire to find a role that allowed me to give back to women and parents. This mission resonates deeply with me, not only professionally but also personally.

As a mother to my daughter Paloma, I have experienced firsthand the joys and struggles of parenthood. The challenges of my first year as a parent have given me a profound understanding of the support parents need, shaping my commitment to making a difference in the lives of other women and families.

While my career path led me to become a Managing Director in banking, where I was responsible for leading large teams, my true passion has always been about people, diversity, and inclusion. I believe that the heart of success in any field lies in recognizing and nurturing the potential in each individual.

In my role as a trustee for MAMA, I aim to blend this passion with my professional experience to champion the needs of parents and to contribute to the vital work MAMA does. I am excited to use my skills and insights to support MAMA’s mission, empowering women and parents through this incredible journey.

Trish Mugwangi (she/her)

Trustee

I am thrilled to be a Trustee of MAMA Academy looking forward to bringing in my expertise in midwifery and most importantly sharing my knowledge on how to improve an equitable care in maternity. Born into a family deeply rooted in the healthcare profession, I embarked on my nursing journey from Zimbabwe to England . Initially training as a nurse, my passion for midwifery ignited during placements, leading me to qualify as a Midwife in 1998. Throughout my career, I’ve embraced diverse roles, from Teenager Pregnancy Midwife to Sure Start Midwife and Community Midwifery, finding fulfillment in caring for women in deprived areas often overlooked by society.

My dedication to improving maternity care in undeserved communities earned me accolades, including the Trust Innovation Award in 2008 and the Making The Difference Award for Culture and Diversity in 2022. As a Professional Midwifery Advocate, I find joy in supporting both midwives and families, striving to enhance the well-being of staff and patients.

Becoming a Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic Champion at Darent Valley hospital in 2020, I recognised the disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on ethnic minority pregnant individuals. Motivated to effect positive change, I played a pivotal role in establishing the Maternity Equality Diversity Inclusion (MEDI) Focus Group, earning accolades from the Care Quality Commission for its outstanding initiatives.

Under my leadership, MEDI evolved, creating a dedicated social media platform, providing crucial information for ethnic minority women. Additionally, mandatory cultural competency training was implemented for all midwives at Darent Valley. Joining the LMNS team in 2022 as Equity and Equalities Lead, I’ve spearheaded the Kent & Medway Equity action plan, striving for equity in maternal and infant outcomes, particularly for Black, Asian, and Mixed ethnic groups, as well as those in deprived areas. My commitment extends to fostering equality in the experiences of minority ethnic staff.

Becoming a Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic Champion at Darent Valley hospital in 2020, I recognized the disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on ethnic minority pregnant individuals. Motivated to effect positive change, I played a pivotal role in establishing the Maternity Equality Diversity Inclusion (MEDI) Focus Group, earning accolades from the Care Quality Commission for its outstanding initiatives.

Under my leadership, MEDI evolved, creating a dedicated social media platform, providing crucial information for ethnic minority women. Additionally, mandatory cultural competency training was implemented for all midwives at Darent Valley. Joining the LMNS team in 2022 as Equity and Equalities Lead, I’ve spearheaded the Kent & Medway Equity action plan, striving for equity in maternal and infant outcomes, particularly for Black, Asian, and Mixed ethnic groups, as well as those in deprived areas.

Academy Advisors:

Professor Alexander Heazell, MBChB(Hons) PhD MRCOG (he/him)

Medical Advisor

Professor Alexander Heazell is a Senior Clinical Lecturer in Obstetrics and Clinical Director of the Tommy’s Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre, University of Manchester. After graduation from the University of Birmingham Medical School in 2000, he commenced clinical training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. After completing his PhD thesis on placenta dysfunction in preeclampsia, he has focussed his research interests around stillbirth. His research portfolio includes a profile of basic science, clinical and qualitative research studies with the aim of better understanding and diagnosis of stillbirth leading to improvements in care and saving babies lives. He has published over 75 peer-reviewed papers. He is involved with several workstreams with the Department of Health to prevent stillbirths and improve care. He is the chair of the International Stillbirth Alliance.

Dr. Michelle Tolfrey, DClinPsy (she/her)

Information Advisor

We are delighted to welcome Dr. Michelle Tolfrey as MAMA Academy’s expert advisor on perinatal mental health.

Michelle has over 18 years of experience in mental health services in the NHS, charitable sector and private practice. She completed her doctorate at Royal Holloway, University of London and has since worked in a range of settings including specialist therapy services, inpatient hospitals, prison and social services. During this time, Michelle has undertaken further accredited training in a range of evidence-based therapies, so that she can provide the most effective interventions for her clients.

Michelle has lived experienced of baby loss and has been very involved with the online loss communities for the past five years. She therefore brings both her professional and personal knowledge of loss to her work. Michelle is passionate about ensuring people have access to high quality, safe and evidence-based therapies. She has a particular interest in trauma therapy.

As part of her clinical work, Michelle is keen to ensure that staff in healthcare settings have access to training around perinatal loss. She believes that helping teams and systems to better understand and support bereaved parents is fundamental to improving outcomes.

Qualifications:
Professional Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy)
Masters degree in Research in Psychology (MRes)
Bachelors degree in Social Psychology (BSc Hons)

Michelle is a HCPC Registered Clinical Psychologist, BPS Chartered Clinical Psychologist and ISST Accredited Schema Therapist.

www.talkingheads.co.uk

Kate Yardley (she/her)

Information Advisor

We are delighted to welcome Kate Yardley to the MAMA Academy advisory board as our expert advisor on digital transformation in maternity services. We are also excited to be able to benefit from Kate’s experience and expertise with implementing safety improvement programmes such as Better Births, the Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle, and the Ockenden Report in her trust.

Kate says:

“Since qualifying as a midwife in 2008, I have worked in a variety of maternity settings including the community, acute labour ward, midwife-led birth centre and ante/postnatal ward.

As a midwife, I am passionate about providing safe, high quality care to women and enabling other midwives to do the same. This drive led me to work within the governance team and I am currently one of the Lead Midwives for Better Births at the Royal Devon & Exeter, working to improve our maternity services.

I have a particular interest in the use of digital technology in maternity services and helped to facilitate the implementation of our electronic patient record over all areas of our service. I feel strongly that collaboration is the key to improving services and I am currently the vice chair of the Digital Midwives Expert Reference group, a national network of digital midwives.

I also work closely with our Local Maternity and Neonatal System and also Devon Maternity Voices Partnership to ensure that the voices of women and their families are heard in everything we do.”

MAMA Volunteers:

Amanda Horscroft (she/her)

Volunteer Literature Distributor

On December 3rd 2019 my beautiful boy was born sleeping. I was 39 weeks pregnant and he was my first child. My heart was broken.
Slowly I am learning how to live as a mummy to a baby with wings. I do my best to stay positive and to make my boy proud.
When the opportunity came for me to become a volunteer for this wonderful charity I was overwhelmed by happiness. I am so happy to be able to play a small part in supporting MAMA Academy. It has provided me great comfort that in a small way I am helping to spread such important awareness.