OUR PEOPLE

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Lady Astor

Patron

“I am honoured to be Patron of Abigail’s Footsteps and to help raise awareness and improve conditions for the parents and families of those who suffer such a tragic loss.”

 

Lady Astor of Hever [Liz] is the daughter of the late Viscount Mackintosh of Halifax, of Quality Street and toffee fame. She worked as a model, a teacher and a head hunter before her marriage to her husband Johnnie, and has written two books, a memoir and a novel. She has done extensive charity work, leading fund raising treks through Inner Mongolia, Cuba, to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro and to Machu Picchu. She is a Vice President of the National Autistic Society and Patron of many other autism charities, including charities that support those with learning disabilities, dyspraxia and still birth.

 

As a much valued Patron of Abigail’s Footsteps, Lady Astor has been at the forefront of the charity’s work helping bereaved families and educating maternity staff in how to best help everyone who suffers the loss of a baby.

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Jo Ward

Founding Patron

“Jo donates £17 from every dress she sells to Abigail’s Footsteps in memory of the 17 babies who are still born or die a neo-natal death every day here in the UK.”

 

Jo studied at Greenwich University where, in 2001, she gained a BA (Hons) in Business Administration majoring in personnel. She worked firstly in London and then moved back to Kent where she met her husband David.

 

Falling pregnant in 2008 she resigned her position from a local Kent electronics firm to prepare for looking after her baby when she was born. Devastatingly however in April 2009 baby Abigail was stillborn at 41 weeks.

 

Losing Abigail made Jo realise that life was too short and that you should follow your dreams, so on November 14 2009 Abigail’s Bridalwear in Headcorn was opened in memory of Abigail. A childhood ambition of owning a wedding dress shop was finally realised.

 

However shortly after opening the shop Jo fell pregnant again and stepped back from the day-to-day running of the business to concentrate on nurturing her baby. On 12th July 2010 Jo gave birth to a healthy baby boy named Reuben, who was followed by his sister baby Bethany on November 14th 2011. With Bethany a year old Jo has returned to the shop in an active roll and Abigail’s Bridalwear continues to go from strength to strength.

 

A co-founder of Abigail’s Footsteps, Jo donates £17 from every dress she sells to Abigail’s Footsteps in memory of the 17 babies who are still born or die a neo-natal death every day here in the UK.

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David Ward

Founding Patron & CEO

“We hope that by raising money and awareness through Abigail’s Footsteps we will spare other parents the trauma and devastating loss that we went through!”

 

David Ward is the managing director of award-winning security provider, Ward Security.

 

A former Kent Businessperson of The Year, together with his brother Kevin, he has successfully developed Ward Security into a highly respected and accredited company with a reputation for delivering bespoke client solutions. He is very much a ‘people person’, and firmly believes in developing talent from within. This approach has worked well for Ward Security, and engenders a strong sense of loyalty among the company’s people.

 

David is heavily involved in the local community, through his work as chairman of the Headcorn Association of Trade and as a Committee Member of The Rochester Cathedral Business Guild and also sits on the Advisory Committee of the Governing Board of Mid Kent College, and with a number of charities such as SANDS, and most recently with Abigail’s Footsteps, set up in memory of his daughter Abigail Rosie-Ann Ward, who was tragically stillborn in 2009.

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Cheryl Baker

Vice President

One of my own twin daughters was born with Respiratory Distress Syndrome which, basically, meant her lungs weren’t developed enough for her to breath.She was in the Special Care Baby Unit for two weeks with her organs being worked by machinery.

 

My gratefulness to the medical team who saved her life is immeasurable but it also made me acutely aware that I could have lost her. I can’t imagine any greater grief than losing a child. I support Abigail’s Footsteps wholeheartedly and hope I can make some small contribution in helping this charity with it’s very worthwhile goals.

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Craig Chalmers

Vice President

Craig is a former top flight rugby union player having won caps for Scotland and the British and Irish Lions.

 

Craig who was described as “a classy fly half with a deadly boot” made 60 appearances for Scotland and played for the Lions on their 1989 tour of Australia.

 

Since retiring from a career in club and international rugby he has continued to support the game through coaching – most recently working with Esher RFC.

 

Upon becoming a Vice President at Abigail’s Footsteps Craig said “I am really pleased to be a part of the team. Abigail’s Footsteps does fantastic work in supporting bereaved families and friends. Thanks to their work midwives across the UK will have access to bereavement training and facilities. I look forward to supporting this work and making a real difference.”

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Julie Etchingham

Vice President

Julie Etchingham presents ‘News at Ten’ and the ‘Tonight’ programme for ITV. A journalist for 20 years, she has previously worked at BBC News and Sky News. She has covered many of the major stories of recent years, including the Asian Tsunami and Japanese Earthquake, the Royal Wedding and the election of Barack Obama. She has interviewed the past four Prime Ministers, as well as Hillary Clinton, Condoleeza Rice and Aung San Suu Kyi – and was the first woman to host a UK election night programme. She was also the first woman to win the Royal Television Society Presenter of the Year award.

 

She became involved with Abigail’s Footsteps last year after being moved by David and Jo’s heart breaking story of the loss of their daughter, and inspired by their extraordinary efforts to help other parents in the same situation.

 

She is married with two young sons, and lives in London.

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Sian Lloyd

Vice President

Sian Lloyd is the longest serving member on the ITV National Weather Team. She’s been on the nation’s screens for 20 years and in that time has picked up several major awards, including World’s Best Weather Presenter and several Weather Presenter of the Year accolades here in the UK.

 

She regularly guests on a number of TV programmes, from Loose Women to the Alan Titchmarsh Show, and even braved the hardships of the jungle in I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!

 

As a travel writer for the Mail on Sunday, she‘s a regular globe-trotter, but likes nothing better than walking or cycling in the British countryside.

 

She supports a number of charities and hopes to be able to contribute in a positive way to Abigail’s Footsteps.

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Kellie Marie Stewart

Vice President

Kelly-Marie Stewart is a pioneering actress whose determination and drive won her a role in the Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks, and encouraged other soaps to cast disabled actors in key roles.

 

Kelly-Marie attended Liverpool Theatre School and featured in several TV advertisements before landing the role of Hayley Ramsey in Hollyoaks. Like Hayley – Kelly-Marie suffers from Guillain-Barre syndrome. The disorder which affects the peripheral nervous system caused Kelly-Marie to lose the use of her legs.

 

Undaunted Kelly-Marie has continued to work as an actress and is Mum to Daisie. She is a passionate campaigner working with the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, the Disabled Parents’ Network, and of course Abigail’s Footsteps.

 

Kelly-Marie lives in Liverpool with her daughter Daisie.

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Victor Ubogu

Vice President

All children deserve to be loved and respected, and that is true for babies born asleep or soon after birth.”

 

Victor Obogu is a successful businessman and a former England international rugby player. He was capped 24 times for his country between 1992 and 1997 and played his club rugby at Bath. As a prop – a position requiring strength and muscle – he was renowned for an untypical turn of speed.

 

Today Victor runs a successful corporate hospitality company specialising in premier sports events. He uses his contacts and expertise to raise funds and profile for Abigail’s Footsteps.

 

Victor lives with his wife and children in Bath.

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Kamal Aggarwal

Chairman

Kamal Joined the Board in May 2015 and was elected Chair in November 2015. Kamal is a partner with regional law firm Thomson Snell & Passmore specialising in commercial litigation. He heads the firm’s Thames Gateway Office in Crossways Business Park, Dartford, Kent.

 

Kamal is also a Board member of the Thames Gateway Kent Partnership. His previous roles have included as Chair of the North Kent Employment and Skills Board, Chair of the Thames Gateway (Kent) Chamber of Commerce, Advisory member to the Board of Common Purpose (Kent) and a nominated member of the proposed Gravesham Housing Association Board.

 

Kamal is married with two children.

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Trevor Adams

Treasurer

A banking professional with a degree in Financial Services and 37 years banking experience. Having started his career with a High Street bank, Trevor spent 30 years working with a broad spectrum of businesses providing financial guidance to owner managed SME’s before moving on to work with larger Public Listed Companies based in London’s West End and Canary Wharf.

 

In 2008 Trevor joined Handelsbanken as Branch Manager to establish a new branch serving the North Kent region. Since that time, Trevor has become embedded in the local business community and is now considered one the regions trusted financial advisors.

 

Married with 3 boys, he enjoys most sports but particularly enjoys his golf and has also been seen on the terraces at White Hart Lane.

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Christine Birrell

Trustee

As a midwife, for more than thirty years, I have developed a special interest in caring for bereaved parents and their families following a miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death.

 

While I have never experienced the devastation of losing a baby to stillbirth or neonatal death, I believe my work over the years with bereaved parents, both as a midwife and as a member of Fife Sands, has given me some understanding of not only how a baby’s death can impact on families but an awareness of what bereaved parents need to support them though one of the most traumatic experiences in their lives. For many years now I have endeavored to offer this support to bereaved families through the grieving process and beyond.

 

Passionate about improving the care offered to bereaved parents, I am delighted to have been accepted as a trustee for Abigail’s Footsteps, as this gives me the opportunity to continue working to both support bereaved families and to ensure that care offered is of the highest standard. My dream is that in the not too distant future, all bereaved families in the UK will be offered Gold Standard Quality Care.

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Clare Runham

Trustee

Clare Runham first became aware of the work of Abigail’s Footsteps after some close friends experienced the stillbirth of their full term baby. She was determined to do something to raise awareness and funds to help other families.

 

To date Clare has completed the London Marathon and climbed Kilimanjaro raising hundreds of pounds for the charity.

 

She is the managing director of a Kent based virtual assistance company and plans to use her organisation and event management skills to support the charity’s events across the country.

 

Clare is married with a son and lives in Kent.

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Beverley Thompson

Trustee

Beverley is a public affairs and media relations specialist working with a major utility. She was previously a journalist and presenter with the BBC both nationally and regionally, counting among her credits, roles as a BBC Breakfast News reporter and BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour contributor.

 

She works for a number of charities and has extensive experience of fundraising.

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Paul Williamson

Trustee

Paul Williamson is head of Realia Marketing – an award winning communications agency supporting a number of market leading national and international brands.

 

A proven strategic marketer, Paul has worked within a range of sectors in multinational, medium and small agencies. Responsible for the development and implementation of a number of high profile communications programmes, he has worked extensively with a number of national and international brands including Oracle, Cap Gemini, The Royal Bank of Scotland, Polygon, Hospira, GAB Robins, BT, British Airways, BAA, South African Airways, William Hill and B&Q.

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Sam Collinge

Trustee

Sam Collinge has held the post of Bereavement Support Specialist Midwife at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust for 18 years.

She was awarded the NMSF (National Maternity Support Foundation) award for best practice in bereavement care at the 2015 RCM annual midwifery awards for her “Forever Photos” photography training initiative, which aims to improve the sensitive photography offered to parents following late pregnancy loss and neonatal death .

The NMSF (also known as Jakes Charity ) have designated Sam as a “Jake’s Midwife” in memory of Jake Canter, the son of founders Andrew and Rachel Canter who was stillborn in 2005.

Sam is also on a number of advisory bodies including the West Midlands Strategic Clinical Network, Coventry and District SANDS and was also on the working party to develop the Perinatal Institute bereavement notes.

Sam is also a member of The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Baby Loss. The APPG is co-chaired by MPs Antoinette Sandbach and Will Quince, who have both had personal experience of baby loss

The APPG develops policy to support families who experience the death of a baby. And works alongside charities, healthcare professionals and families directly affected by baby loss to best engage with national government, local authorities and national public health bodies across the UK. The main purpose of the APPG is to help prevent and reduce baby deaths, as well as to improve the care that parents and their families receive when a baby dies.