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The Year in Review: October 2020 to October 2021

This is my 5th and final AGM reporting on Iolanthe year from the Executive Director’s point of view, as I move into my new role in finance support and welcome Susan Soar and Sharyn Lock taking on my role as Executive Director and Administrative Assistant respectively.

Trustee Resignations

In October 2020 Mary Stewart stepped down as Midwife Trustee. She had been a Trustee in the late 1990s and in 2006 had won an Iolanthe Midwifery Research Fellowship. She returned as a Trustee in 2015. 

This October we will also sadly be saying goodbye to Phoebe Pallotti who has been a Trustee since 2013 and was Vice Chair.

Becoming a Charitable Incorporated Organisation

Having created a CIO which was registered in September 2020, much of the work this year has focused on organising the transfer of the charitable activities and assets of the Iolanthe Trust into the new legal entity. This involved getting various permissions from the Charity Commission, making necessary arrangements with the bank, legal documents for the transfer of assets registering as a charity with HMRC. The legal work was carried out by Hempsons Solicitors and Johanna our Legal Trustee supported the entire process. 


Unusually, due to the Covid pandemic, we announced the delayed 2020 awards in November 2020 as well as the 2021 awards in May 2021.

For both years we offered the Dora Opoku Midwives Award and the Dora Opoku Student Award (both specifically for applications from Black or Brown midwives and students) alongside our Midwives and Student awards and the Jean Davies Award. In 2020 we offered our final Elizabeth Duff Award for the midwife-mother relationship as the funding for this had been fully granted.

The Midwifery Research Fellowship for 2020 had been awarded previously in March 2020. The Fellow, Cristina Fernandez Turienzo was awarded her PhD in February 2021, and won a KCL outstanding thesis prize.

The 2020 Awards ceremony was held online for the first time due to the pandemic. It received exceptional feedback especially for the contribution from Ross and Naomi Coniam, talking about their daughter Norah and the #Nine4Norah challenge, and the conversation between Trustees Mars Lord and Benash Nazmeen on the charity’s role in cultural awareness. A full report is on our website 


The London marathon has traditionally been our largest source of fundraising income. This year the marathon moved from April to October 2021. Three out of four of our runners had run a year ago in the virtual marathon and met their fundraising pledge then. We were delighted to be able to offer them the chance to run in the real event after all their efforts and we thank them (Amy Doherty, Kristy Dunning, Joanne Welsh and new runner for 2021 Jo Milsom) for their continued fundraising.

Maeve O’Connell continued to raise funds for us through donations to her online yoga classes and after a break is back doing it again.

The most significant funding was a legacy of £60,000 so far from Joan Greenwood OBE. This came just at the right time for the charity as we were struggling with loss of income from investments and the marathon. This has enabled us to continue our programme of making awards at the same level as usual for 2021. 

Diversity and inclusion strategy

The position of Iolanthe as a culturally aware charity has been consolidated this year, with more relevant content in our newsletter and on our website, and with increasing numbers of awards won by Black and Brown midwives and students. This is also supplemented with the activities of some of the Trustees. For example, Benash Nazmeen and Mars Lord sitting on the Expert Panel of the Birthrights enquiry into Racial Injustice (Benash as co-chair) and Grace Thomas supporting her students to fundraise for the Dora Opoku Midwives and Student Awards. Discussions continue to make our charity relevant for all midwives and students, of whatever ethnicity and to make changes to ensure that Black and brown midwives recognise that Iolanthe is an organisation they can trust.  


Whilst we ensured compliance with GDPR this year following the previous year’s GDPR audit, a full review is planned following the transfer of charitable activities to the CIO.

Promotion and Social Media

We continued to produce a quarterly newsletter with the help of Caroline James as copywriter who also helped write linked web content for the newsletter. Currently we send the newsletter out to around 466 subscribers and it is opened by 30-45% of them.

We continue to be active and growing on social media - Instagram (705 followers, up from 503 followers last year), Twitter (4,214 followers, up early 500 on last year) and Facebook (768 follows, up from 752).  Thanks to all the Trustees who tweet, retweet and post to the various platforms, keeping us in the public eye.

As always a huge thank you to Jacque and Mars as Chair and Vice Chair for supporting me throughout the year, which has been particularly challenging for Iolanthe, and to all the Trustees for everything they had done for me and Iolanthe during my time as Executive Director. A big welcome to Susan and Sharyn as they take on the role.

Miranda Scanlon, October 2021