I am pleased to make my first report to the AGM as Executive Director of the Iolanthe Midwifery Trust. This report reflects upon and summarises the events of the year.
Iolanthe underwent a significant change in 2021 with the resignation of long-standing Executive Director, Miranda Scanlon. I took up the post in early October 2021 and was delighted to be joined by Sharyn Lock as Administrative Assistant. Miranda continued in the role of Finance Support Officer, offering me valuable handover information as I settled into the organisation.
Jacque Gerrard MBE
In autumn 2021 our Chair of Trustees, Jacque Gerrard, announced that she would be standing down from her role at the end of the year. We celebrated her contribution at our Awards ceremony and thanked her for her years of service to the trust. Jacque remained on the board as a midwife trustee but in June 2022, after a forty-year career in midwifery, Jacque decided that it was time to step down and enjoy her retirement. We wish her the very best for the future.
2021 Awards Ceremony
Due to ongoing uncertainty around the Covid pandemic, we decided to once again hold our Annual Awards Ceremony online. The 2021 awards were therefore celebrated at the end of January 2022. This was a wonderful evening, with trustees, staff and friends of the organisation gathering to announce, applaud and celebrate our wonderful award winners. We also thanked and acknowledged the late Joan Greenwood, whose 2021 legacy had played a key role in the stability and confidence of the trust as it emerged from the pandemic. Our Patron Baroness Julia Cumberlege, who kindly hosted part of the ceremony, also stood down later in 2022.
In 2022 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. Award applications included proposals for training, research and practice improvement. The trust was also very pleased to offer the Midwifery Research Fellowship in 2022, going to Charlotte Clayton to write up her PhD research. Her PhD is on the public health role of caseloading midwives in advancing health equity in women and babies living in socially deprived areas in England. We look forward to learning more about Charlotte’s research.
Board of Trustees
Following Jacque Gerrard standing down we were delighted that our Vice Chair, Mars Lord, agreed to take up the reins of the charity. Mars took on the role of Interim Chair, leading the work of the trust until a new Chair could be appointed. Our Finance Trustee, Louise De’Ath, also announced that she too would like to stand down in March 2022 and she was thanked for her service at the March trustees meeting.
A major part of the charity’s work this year has been recruiting and inducting new trustees to strengthen the trust for the future. We have been pleased to offer roles as midwife trustees to Professor Valerie Fleming, Dr Helen Bedford, Rachel Elf and Lola Ornato. We were also delighted to recruit Deepa Verma (a qualified accountant), who took on the role of FInancial Trustee. In August we welcomed Suzy Adacen, who has agreed to take on the role of new Chair of Trustees. Suzy is a maternity Matron with an interest in mentoring new midwives and student midwives. Suzy impressed the panel with her passion for midwifery, her understanding of inclusion and ideas for the future of Iolanthe Midwifery Trust.
Marathon fundraising is one of our key sources of income and we were delighted to have five marathon runners supporting Iolanthe this year. They ran on October 2nd, having carried out their training during the record-breaking heat of summer 2022. Huge thanks to Philip, Rosina, Amber, Emily and Donna for running 26.2 miles through central London to raise funds for Iolanthe. Each of the runners had their own personal reasons for taking part and we shared their story in newsletter features and on social media. Donations are still coming in and, as a small charity, the funds they raise are very much appreciated.
I presented a new fundraising strategy at the March 2022 trustees meeting. This strategy included looking more closely at how we can engage with our supporters and build on those relationships. For example, we have recently launched a new initiative called ‘Active for Iolanthe’, encouraging our supporters to take part in activity-based fundraising events. The aims of this strand are to boost fundraising but also to increase supporter involvement in the charity.
Since the pandemic we have kept costs low by holding the majority of our meetings online, so we were delighted to hold an in-person away-day on 29th September in London. Trustees came from across Scotland, Wales and England to talk about the work of the trust and discuss plans for the future. I facilitated the day with a range of interactive and discussion based activities. The morning included exploring the priorities and possible future direction of the trust and seeing how the trust fits in alongside other charitable organisations.
Powerful discussions, calm reflections
Inclusion of Black and Brown midwives and student midwives is a vital part of the charity’s work and in the afternoon of the away-day participants discussed case-studies from the Birthrights report ‘Systemic Racism, Not Broken Bodies’. This led to a powerful discussion around how Iolanthe might respond to the ‘Calls to action’ set out in the report. The day ended on a reflective note, with a creative exercise on ‘What Iolanthe means to me’ or ‘The future of Iolanthe’.
Thank you to Sharyn, Miranda, all the trustees and particularly to Interim Chair Mars Lord for supporting me so well in my first year as Executive Director of the Iolanthe Midwifery Trust.
Susan Soar, October 2022