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The year in review: October 2019 to October 2020

Looking at the plans we set for Iolanthe Midwifery Trust during last year's review, it was impossible to predict the challenging times we would face in the year ahead.

In March 2020, we suffered the national lockdown due to the Covid-19 crisis which affected us all, both personally and professionally.  It has had a significant impact on our Iolanthe charity through reduced income and resources and problems with planned projects for our award applicants. Nonetheless, the Trustees are confident that with continued monitoring and careful financial management, the Charity is in a resilient position to cope with future uncertainty.

Appointments and Resignations

In October 2019 our former chair Sheena Byrom and trustee Giuseppe Labriola both stepped down as trustees, followed by Celina Eves in March 2020 who had served for 17 years. Mary Stewart is sadly also resigning at our October meeting.

We were however delighted to appoint three new trustees in March: Benash Nazmeen, Grace Thomas and Logan Van Lessen.

Becoming a Charitable Incorporated Organisation

Much of the governance work this year has focused on creating a CIO to carry on the work of Iolanthe Midwifery Trust. We had the help of our solicitors to guide us through the process; I’m very grateful to Johanna Rhys-Davies, our legal trustee, who supported the work, as well as to the Trustees involved in drafting the new Constitution. The new vehicle has now been approved by the Charity Commission and has its own registered charity number.  It will take over the work of the charity in due course, once all the new infrastructure is in place.


For 2020 we continued to offer the Dora Opoku Midwives Award and the Dora Opoku Student Award (both specifically for applications from Black, Asian or minority ethnic midwives and students) alongside our Midwives and Student awards, the Jean Davies Award and the final Elizabeth Duff Award.  We also offered the Midwifery Research Fellowship to support a midwife researcher to write up their PhD.

Unfortunately the Awards Panel Meeting coincided with the beginning of the Covid lockdown. Although the Awards Judging Panel were able to shortlist candidates, it was decided not allocate the awards at that time. Awards were allocated at the October 2020 meeting to projects relatively unaffected by the Covid-19 situation.

The Iolanthe Midwifery Research Fellowship was granted to Cristina Fernandez Turienzo at King’s College London for her work on continuity of care for women at risk of preterm birth in South London. She started her award on 1 July 2020 with plans to submit her PhD by the end of January.

Jo Welsh, our 2018 Midwifery Research Fellow was awarded her PhD in December 2019 for her work on Microbial Stewardship in Uganda. Congratulations to Jo!

We plan to hold our 2020 Awards Ceremony online early in 2021.


The London marathon is an important source of fundraising income. Sadly, the April 2020 marathon mass event was cancelled and the next one is planned for Oct 2021, with mostly the same Iolanthe runners. This means there are fewer fundraising opportunities as they have largely already met their pledge amounts, although we are encouraging them to raise even more.  So far, they have raised a staggering £11,000! We are so grateful to them for hard efforts both training and fundraising.

We are also very grateful to Maeve O’Connell, a midwife lecturer who has been raising funds for us through donations to her online yoga classes. So far she has raised the fantastic sum of more than £420.

Diversity and inclusion strategy

This has been led by Mars Lord, our Vice-Chair and Lay Trustee, with the support of the other Trustees. She has encouraged discussions about making our charity relevant for all midwives and students, of whatever ethnicity, and prompted us to make changes to ensure that Black and brown midwives would recognise that Iolanthe is an organisation they can trust.  We are very grateful to Mars for her guidance and wisdom.  As a result of recent Trustee recruitment, our Board has become more culturally inclusive and Iolanthe is, hopefully, becoming an organisation recognised as such.

Promotion and Social Media

We continue to produce a quarterly newsletter for subscribers (see the bottom of this webpage to subscribe). We also continue to be active on social media - Instagram and Twitter (both @iolanthemidwife) and Facebook (Iolanthe Midwifery Trust).  Thanks to all the Trustees who tweet, retweet and post to the various platforms, keeping us in the public eye.

A huge and heartfelt thank you to Jacque Gerrard and Mars Lord as Chair and Vice Chair for ongoing support for me in my role as Executive Director.

Miranda Scanlon, October 2020