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.
Business Development Manager
Chris joined MAMA Academy in November 2020 to act as a dedicated point of contact for health professionals and hospitals to support them with their work on safer pregnancy messaging. Chris is also leading on developing and increasing our range of resources available to support both health professionals and expectant parents with safe, healthy, and empowered pregnancy.
He has been involved in the maternity world since his son Henry was stillborn in May 2014, having previously run a local baby loss charity in North Yorkshire and served as a trustee of a specialist bereavement care training charity before joining #teamMAMA. Henry Mills-Binnie was stillborn at 38 weeks weighing just 4lb 13oz, and it was later discovered that he was growth restricted – one of the main factors related to stillbirth. Different care – and some of the fantastic advances that have come about since 2014 – may have led to a different outcome.
Chris was first involved with maternity safety when speaking at the 2016 launch of NHS England’s Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle, and has since become a prominent parent voice promoting stillbirth prevention, improved bereavement care, and specialist care in pregnancy after loss. He has spoken on these topics as an expert by experience at numerous conferences, training days, and other local, regional and national-level events at around the country and globally and in various media interviews.
Chris believes passionately in improving maternity safety, reducing avoidable stillbirth, improving bereavement care, and finding ways for other agencies to support maternity staff as effectively as possible to bring about the best outcomes for families. He was awarded the ‘Inspirational Father’ award at the 2018 Butterfly Awards, an annual awards ceremony for bereaved families and the professionals and organisations that support them. Henry’s little sisters, Robyn and Hallie, were born in December 2018.
If you’re a maternity professional or student who’d like to find out more about MAMA Academy’s work or how we can support you in your area, please do get in touch with Chris!
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.
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
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.
Dr. Michelle Tolfrey, DClinPsy
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
Gender Inclusion Advisor
Ash Bainbridge is a student midwife who is passionate about person-centred care and informed choice. They advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusivity in midwifery education and practice, across the childbearing continuum and for all pregnancy outcomes. Collaborative working with students, midwives, and birth activists is a priority for Ash who edits The Student Midwife Journal, leads Maternal Journal for Student Midwives, and co-founded the Birth Worker Reading Circle. Ash is also a member of publishing house Elsevier’s student midwifery advisory board.
Ash was first introduced to MAMA Academy when pregnant with their first child and gifted a MAMA Wellbeing Wallet. This wallet prompted Ash to visit triage with reduced fetal movements, an experience and outcome so positive that Ash now gifts a MAMA Academy wallet to each and every friend who announces a pregnancy. Ash is looking forward to working with MAMA Academy who are taking their first steps to learn how to inform expectant trans*, non-binary, and gender non-conforming parents about #saferpregnancy. This work will improve outcomes for everybody and every body.
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.