Our latest Inspirational Women nomination comes from Jenny, who wants to show some love for Heidi, the driving force behind pregnancy charity MAMA Academy.
A little over a year ago I responded to a post on Facebook from the pregnancy charity MAMA Academy, appealing for volunteers to help with some of their day-to-day jobs. Having already been involved in fundraising for Tommy’s following the birth of my son Joe in 2010 when I had suffered from pre-eclampsia, I was keen to help out a cause so aligned to my passions. Little did I know that what started as providing a bit of support for MAMA’s social media presence would now see me as General Manager of the charity and a member of the board of trustees. And it’s all because of a truly inspirational woman – Heidi Eldridge.
Heidi’s story does not start as a happy one. At 36 weeks pregnant with her first child in May 2009, she was unexpectedly dealt the devastating news that her longed-for son Aidan had passed away, his death classed as an ‘unexplained’ stillbirth. May 15th marks the 6th anniversary of the loss of Aidan, and the journey Heidi has been on to achieve what she has since that day is incredible.
In the months and years that followed her tragic loss, Heidi attended various local Sands meetings (support groups for parents bereaved through stillbirth or neonatal death). She noticed that many mums were receiving inconsistent advice from their healthcare team. After doing a lot of personal research she got in touch with her local hospitals to present her findings at their MSLC (Maternity Service Liaison Committee) meetings. It was at these meetings that she learnt of the true value of midwives, and that they need support and access to new information, just as much as expectant mums do. And so MAMA Academy was born.
What began as a small non-profit awareness raising organisation in Surrey has now become a national registered charity, and is growing quickly in terms of volunteers, supporters and influence. Heidi acts as Chairman of MAMA Academy and runs the charity entirely in her own time, with the support of a team of committed volunteers, whilst also fitting in her ‘day job’ and not to mention looking after her two children Tobiah, born in October 2010, and Tilly, who arrived in August 2013.
Heidi picked up an Inspiration Award last year for her charity work to reduce stillbirth
She often spends her days off attending meetings with the likes of NHS England, the Department of Health and the Perinatal Institute, to discuss how MAMA can provide the best support to mums and midwives and how the charity can link in with large national projects. Her passion, tenacity and determination to reduce the UK’s shockingly high stillbirth rate was recently rewarded with a funding grant from NHS England to pay for 75,000 of MAMA’s Wellbeing Wallets, which have the potential to ensure healthy pregnancies for women across the country this year.
I am inspired daily by Heidi’s will to succeed in making a real difference to pregnancy outcomes for other mums on the back of her own devastating experience. It is such an honour to be able to work so closely with her for a charity we both now care so much about, even though we live at opposite ends of the country! I have never been more glad to respond to a Facebook post – I have found a fulfilling role volunteering for such a worthwhile cause and more importantly have made a friend for life. I can’t wait to see what MAMA can do next, and with Heidi at the helm, it will be something pretty special.
Have you got a friend, blogger, mum, dad, person on the street that inspires you? Then I want to hear from you! We will feature one nominee a week in Inspiring Women (and men). At the end of each month myself and Sarah from Rock Cakes will pick one of the nominations to win and choose the wording on their own medal! Just email firstname.lastname@example.org with 150 words min on who you are nominating and why with an image.