All our information is written by our team of healthcare professionals who freely give their time to help us make a difference.
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.
My name is Dom and I am delighted to be part of MAMA Academy.
My background before MAMA was in health and fitness and my passion is fundraising.
My 4th daughter Ella was stillborn on the 12th November 2010. This obviously devastated our family and introduced us into the dark world of baby loss.
Ella’s death was recorded as death unknown and this is very hard to take as a parent. After my daughter’s death I made some decisions to change my life and the path it was taking. I lost 10 stone in weight by taking up running and then becoming a level 3 personal trainer and threw myself into raising money in Ella’s name.
In the time since then I have run in of 70 events in her name from 5km to 70 mile and along with friends, family and just random people we formed a group called Team Ella and raised over £150,000 for various charities including MAMA.
My running days are now over but I’m hugely excited to use my fundraising and fitness experience to help the supporters of MAMA Academy.
My goal and ambition now, is to see a further reduction in stillbirth figures in the UK and for there to be no more unexplained deaths through stillbirth. To be able to do this every day with such a committed team is hugely exciting.
Robin Meltzer is the 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 and is currently serving as Chair of Trustees.
I have known Heidi and her husband, Steve, for more than a decade and witnessed, first hand, the trauma they went through, and subsequently the way Heidi harnessed their emotions and learnings to create MAMA Academy. So I feel very privileged to join the board of trustees and to work with her, and the growing team, as they move forward to deliver on our strategy.
My wife, Tracie, and I have four grown-up children and one grandson. We have also been foster parents for more than fifteen years, and are now special guardians to two teenage girls who have been part of our extended family for more than ten years.
Through our own family and fostering engagements we have developed a strong understanding of children’s needs and have spent some considerable time looking at early years, pre and post-natal, development and its implications upon child development and later life outcomes.
As a keen cyclist I have raised several thousands of pounds for local charities, including MAMA Academy and Eikon, a local youth charity.
I have more than 38 years experience in international business, primarily in the European telecommunications sector. Where I have established and led teams operating across Europe, Middle East and Africa, delivering significant result in sales, marketing and business development with some of the industries most respected companies, including; Alcatel-Lucent, BT, Cisco and Ciena.
I very much hope to bring these combined skills to the benefit of Heidi and the team.
Angie Bowles became an independent midwife in 2019 having worked in the NHS since 1980, first as a nurse and then as midwife. She has worked in specialist midwifery roles in gestational diabetes, bereavement care, screening and fetal medicine. She made the move to independent practice so that she could explore working in a different way, with the desire being to spend much more time with individual clients. Angie is passionate about informed choice in midwifery care. She has a special interest in midwifery care relating to pregnancy loss and pregnancy after loss. Her commitment to providing and supporting real choice has led her to working extensively with those facing unexpected news in pregnancy of significant issues for their baby, often after screening tests and scans. She supports those who choose to continue their pregnancy in the knowledge of difference and those who decide that compassionate induction (termination for
fetal abnormality) is right for them. She worked with Together for Short Lives in developing the Perinatal Pathway for babies with
palliative care needs https://www.togetherforshortlives.org.uk/resource/perinatal-pathway-babies-palliative-care-needs/
More information about Angie’s work can be found at www.walkingwithyou.org.uk
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.
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.
Dr Alexander Heazell, MBChB(Hons) PhD MRCOG
Dr 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.
Sheena Byrom, OBE
Sheena Byrom is a practising midwife, and worked within the NHS for more than 35 years. Sheena was one of the UK’s first consultant midwives, and successfully helped to lead the development of three birth centres in East Lancashire. Sheena is a member of the Royal College of Midwives Better Births initiative and lectures nationally on midwifery and childbirth related topics. Sheena is the Patron of StudentMidwife.Net and Chair of the Iolanthe Midwifery Trust. Her midwifery memoirs, Catching Babies, is a Sunday Times bestseller, and her absolute passion is promoting normal physiological birth, and a positive childbirth experience for all women. Her latest book, The Roar Behind the Silence: why kindness, compassion and respect matter in maternity care is jointly edited with Soo Downe, and together they hope the book will be used as a resource to promote positive childbirth throughout the world. Sheena was awarded an OBE in 2011 for services to midwifery, and she actively lobbies for maternity service improvements through several social media channels. Sheena is currently a Midwife Consultant, and her personal and midwifery related website is www.sheenabyrom.com
Amanda Burleigh, RGM RM
Midwife for 27 years. Campaigner for optimal cord clamping. Co-developer of Basics/Lifestart trolley. School of Health Care Radical.
Medical Innovations Award 2011 (Basics trolley)
Midwife of the Year 2012 Yorkshire Evening Post
Midwife of the Year 2012 (2014) BJM (3rd)
Midwife of the Year (2014) Mama Conference (shortlist)
Midwife of the Year 2015 BJM (shortlist)
Kirstie is a senior lecturer in midwifery at King’s College London. She has worked in health services research for fifteen years, and specialises in narrative and qualitative methodologies within health research. Her research interests include place of birth, shared decision making, and perceptions of risk and uncertainty. Kirstie recently completed an NIHR funded knowledge mobilisation fellowship, during which she explored ways of discussing and conveying risks and benefits within maternity care to women, partners, antenatal teachers, clinicians and service commissioners. Her focused field is maternity research, although she has a broad interest in all aspects of public health, health service organisation and comparative health policy and practice. Kirstie has also undertaken narrative review and synthesis, and worked throughout my career on public engagement with research. For more information, and links to Kirstie’s publications, please visit the KCL website.
Medical Advisor; Practicing Midwife
My name is Natalie Linder, I have been a practicing midwife for the last 5 years working predominantly in a consultant-led labour ward. More recently, I have had the opportunity to participate in clinical skills facilitating and education, particularly for junior midwives. I also work as an RCM workplace representative and have recently been awarded “Thompsons Members Champion” award at the Royal College of Midwives Awards 2015. I was recognised for revitalising and engaging the members of our branch and for my hard work and dedication during the pay campaign in 2014/15. I utilise social media to network, share and promote current issues and best practice in maternity care.
I passionately promote the development and practice of the 6 C’s to ensure the families accessing our maternity services receive high quality care by compassionate, driven and competent midwives.
Medical Advisor; Specialist Midwife
I am a RGN, qualified Midwife and have a diploma in Child Psychology, a diploma in Health Service Management, and an Msc in Counselling & Psychotherapy. I am the counsellor at Epsom & St Helier University NHS Hospital’s and specialise in providing 1-1 counselling sessions to the women attending the women’s health services at both these hospital’s. The women are referred to the service for a range of issues eg Depression Anxiety, Bereavement, Trauma experience’s. I am very proactive in training the staff in both Hospital’s and have been consulted to provide training in bereavement support & communication skill’s to student midwives in their final year of training. I was nominated by my colleagues & patients & she received the trusts highest award which was the Chief Executive’s Award for dedication and for providing a unique service. With the support of Sands and my colleagues I was able to provide the Poppy room to the maternity unit which has been dedicated for bereaved couple’s to use. More recently I have been in the local press when a patient highlighted the excellent counselling service the trust provides as a result of receiving support through her pregnancy losses’ & subsequent pregnancy.
Jane Plumb, MBE
Jane and husband Robert founded Group B Strep Support (GBSS) in 1996, following the death of their middle child. GBSS is an independent UK charity with a highly respected and independent medical advisory panel working to improve the prevention of group B Strep infections in babies, support and inform families affected by group B Strep and their health professionals, and support relevant research.
Jane has worked with many UK medical bodies, contributing to group B Strep relating consultations, and as a lay-representative on NICE guidelines/ Quality Standards. She provides patient input for research studies and the National Clinical Research Network Reproductive Health & Childbirth Speciality Group. She works closely with parliamentarians on improving group B Strep prevention policy. Jane was awarded an MBE for services to Child Healthcare in 2012.
Jenny Chambers founded www.icpsupport.org in 1991, after finally being given a diagnosis for the stillbirth of her two daughters (1986 and 1991).
ICP Support was formally registered as a charity in 2012 and, although UK-based, has an international reach. It provides support and research-based information to people affected by the condition and promotes and funds research into the condition. Jenny works in a London research group investigating ICP, is a patient representative on the NIHR Reproductive Health and Childbirth Specialty Group and represents the charity on several other health-based organisations. She is a trained counsellor although had to give up her practice to focus on the research and helping to run ICP Support.
Web & Social Media Administrator
I first approached MAMA after my family funded Wellbeing Wallets for our home town of Derby. This fundraising was done in memory of my daughter Rey Rosemary who was tragically born sleeping at 36 weeks in 2016. I was quickly blessed with a rainbow pregnancy, and the MAMA Academy became my go-to-place for information on having a healthy pregnancy, and the symptoms and conditions associated with the risks of baby loss. My rainbow Sam was born by emergency C-Section at 33 weeks due to me having the confidence to speak out, thanks to the empowering messages I had read from this organisation.
This year I contacted MAMA again to see if my passion for researching and writing could benefit the team. I was thrilled to be taken on and was quickly given my first article to write. A few articles down the line, I was asked if I could assist with the scheduling of the social media posts over it's various platforms. The skills I have learnt whilst volunteering for MAMA have helped me build up my CV and apply for jobs that I used to believe were unattainable.
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.