The Maternity & Midwifery Festivals are curated by some of the UK’s most renowned maternity and midwifery leaders of their generation through our advisory panel. Led by Sue Macdonald, Joint Editor of Mayes Midwifery Textbook and former head of education at the RCM, they bring experience from all aspects of maternity care relating to revalidation, management and maternity leadership.
Dr Cathy Ashwin
Head of MIDIRS and Principal Editor of MIDIRS Midwifery Digest
Honorary Professor of Nottingham University
As a midwife, editor and author, Cathy has a strong interest in Public Health and in promoting a positive experience for women during pregnancy.
As part of her work to support both qualified midwives and students in their practice and studies, Cathy has recently co-published the Myles Pocket Reference for Midwives.
Professor Amy Brown
Department of Public Health, Policy and Social Sciences
Professor Amy Brown is based in the Department of Public Health, Policy and Social Sciences at Swansea University in the UK where she leads the MSc in Child Public Health.
With a background in psychology, she has published over 60 papers exploring psychological, cultural and societal influences upon breastfeeding and introducing solids.
Her research seeks to understand how we can shift our perception of how babies are fed away from an individual mothering issue to a wider public health problem – with societal level solutions. Amy has published three books: Breastfeeding Uncovered: Who really decides how we feed our babies, Why starting solids matters, and The Positive Breastfeeding Book: Everything you need to feed your baby with confidence.
Senior Midwifery Lecturer, UCLAN
In 2017 Anna became the proud new owner of The Practising Midwife alongside her mother, Sheena Byrom and their partners, Creativeworld.
Beyond The Practising Midwife and All4Maternity Anna works as a Senior Midwifery Lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).
She is also currently completing her doctorate exploring the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative with Professor Fiona Dykes at the Maternal & Infant Nutrition and Nurture research unit at UCLan.
She has three children: Seamus, Betsy and William.
Dr Sheena Byrom RM OBE
Sheena Byrom is a practising midwife of 40 years, having worked in the NHS for most of that time. Sheena was one of the UK’s first consultant midwives, and as head of midwifery successfully helped to lead the development of three birth centres in East Lancashire. As well as being an international speaker, Sheena provides consultancy services to both NHS Trusts and to organisations globally; helping them to support normal, physiological childbirth. Sheena is involved in several midwifery related charities, and is one of the project leads of the Midwifery Unit Network, which assists and promotes midwifery led units (birth centres) both online, and face-to-face. Sheena and her midwife daughter Anna Byrom are the proud new owners of The Practising Midwife, and an exciting online platform All4Materity.com – the go to place for maternity workers to learn, share and care.
Sheena’s midwifery memoirs, Catching Babies, is a Sunday Times bestseller, and her seminal book, The Roar Behind the Silence: why kindness, compassion and respect matter in maternity care, jointly edited with Soo Downe, is being used as a resource to improve maternity care throughout the world. Sheena and Soo are currently editing a second book, ‘Squaring the Circle: researching normal childbirth in a technological world’, which will be published in 2019.
Sheena was awarded an OBE in 2011 for services to midwifery, and was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Midwives in 2015. In 2016 and 2018, Sheena received Honorary Doctorates from Bournemouth University and the University of Central Lancashire, and in 2017 she was made a Visiting Fellow at Bournemouth University. Her personal and midwifery related website is sheenabyrom.com.
Sheena is committed to the humanisation of childbirth, to maximising normal physiological birth processes, and for all women to experience a positive birth. The global onslaught of medical technology as a means to improve safety continues to influence childbearing women’s physiology and autonomy, and her work to reverse the trend is ongoing.
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board
Judith is the strategic and clinical lead for Public health including Obesity in Pregnancy, Perinatal mental health, Female Genital Mutilation, Elan team, asylum seekers, Human trafficking, teenage pregnancy, breastfeeding, Stillbirth, Safer pregnancy, Sexual Health and the implementation of Long Acting Removable Contraception (LARC), smoking and substance misuse.
Her career started as a rotational midwife where she developed an interest in vulnerable women in pregnancy. Following her rotation to all areas of Maternity she worked as a community midwife in ELAN team, which was developed to provide specialist maternity care and support within specific areas of social deprivation, including substance misuse, asylum seekers, perinatal mental health and safeguarding.
From there Judith undertook a Lecturing secondment with Cardiff University School of Healthcare Sciences which supported her undertaking a PGCE and MSc in Research methods. On completion of this secondment she continued to work as a Midwife in Cardiff and Vale, then progressed onto a specialist midwife in teenage pregnancy role that was being piloted in the Vale of Glamorgan.
It was from this post that Judith moved into the Consultant Midwife role that she is currently in. As a senior clinician she offers support to midwives in all areas of public health, she conducts monthly 1:1 with each specialist midwife within these areas to provide clinical advice and offer support in the development of these services. Recent projects that she is involved with include the development of the healthy pregnancy clinic which aims to review women with a BMI over 35 delivering outside of an obstetric unit and the commencement of a research scholarship in September 2018 which will evaluate the postpartum family planning service that was initially developed in 2016.
Ali is an experienced birth and postnatal Doula recognised with Doula UK since 2013. She covers the South East of England, including all London areas. She is also part of the Doulas In Essex group and Birth in the City Collective.
She is a Chair of Governors; Barnardos Infant feeding volunteer and Doula UK Leadership Team member.
Having supported over 150 families, life has taught her that, despite being an organised control freak, not all things are meant to be controlled. Pregnancy, childbirth and the journey of parenthood are among them.
Member, RCN Midwifery Forum Steering Group Committee
Judy Evans has worked in the NHS for over 40 years and is both a practising midwife and nurse. Her career began in Yorkshire, initially as a nurse then moving to Essex in the 1980s.
She has a wide range of midwifery experience both in the UK & overseas. Fortunate to have been able to work in all settings – hospital, community, midwifery-led birthing units, practice development, as a supervisor and latterly in education, lecturing on numerous associated subjects. Midwifery remains a passion with a particular interest in the Newborn Infant Physical Examination (NIPE) and pain management. She currently practices clinically at Basildon Maternity Hospital and as a registered nurse for the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability.
Judy currently sits on the RCN Midwifery Forum Steering Group Committee.
Midwifery Consultant and Author
Dianne’s passion for midwifery began in 1983 when she qualified at Queen Charlotte’s Hospital, London. Her subsequent energy and enthusiasm for developing and expanding a new practice led her towards teaching about waterbirth in 1989; a subject which has remained extremely close to her heart ever since. Having spent over 40 years in the NHS she decided to start her own company in 2005, MidwifeExpert, which allowed her the freedom to explore midwifery with a global perspective whilst focussing upon areas of practice innovation, development and education. Dianne works clinically in a local hospital supporting low and high complex mothers and babies through childbirth.
Through MidwifeExpert, Dianne continues to expand her horizons; lecturing and consulting internationally as well as offering other specialist services such as Expert Legal Witness and Care Quality Commission Inspections. She currently holds professional roles within respected public and private bodies including APEC (Action on PreEclampsia), NICE UK, Gentle Birth Guardian Education, Waterbirth International (USA), Wenzhou Oriental Maternity Unit (China), Wellness Mother and Baby Hyderabad (India) and advisory panel for MMB.
Over the years Dianne has had 4 books published,( Waterbirth – an attitude to care edition 1 and 2 , Revisiting waterbirth – and attitude to care) and a new version of ‘Revisiting waterbirth – an attitude to care,’ Palgrave.2017. Dianne continues to write numerous articles, drawing equally on her vast experience and vital up-to-date clinical knowledge brought about by maintaining her revalidation to this day.
Midwifery Consultant and Educationalist
Maternity and Midwifery Festivals Programme Curator
Sue is a midwife and educationalist by background. After qualifying as a nurse at Guys hospital, she trained as a midwife. She worked as a midwife in London and in Dorset, working in all areas of maternity services. She then moved into midwifery education after completing the Advanced Diploma in Midwifery. Whilst working in education she designed the first ‘direct entry’ midwifery programme in London,and developed a range of innovative continuing education courses for midwives from initial degree to Masters level. Sue worked at the Royal College of Midwives for 10 years, managing the research and education agendas.
More recently Sue has been involved in a UNICEF programme overseas, and in developing electronic learning materials. She is passionate about developing midwifery practice, research and education, and is currently undertaking an MPhil/PhD at Middlesex University. Sue has recently edited the 15th Edition of Mayes Midwifery Textbook.
She received an Honorary Fellowship from the RCM in June 2014.
Director of Midwifery
Croydon Health Services NHS Trust
Maternity and Midwifery Forum
Neil is a former Director of Communications for the Royal College of Nursing, a post he held between 1984 and 1989. From 1989-1992 he was Political Secretary to the then Labour leader, The Rt Hon Neil Kinnock MP.
He established the publishing company, Neil Stewart Associates, in 1992, working with professional bodies such as the Royal College of Nursing, The Queen’s Nursing Institute, The Council of Deans of Health and The Royal College of Midwives, to develop highly regarded professional conferences.
He went on to establish Policy Review TV, and, more recently Narrowcast Media Group, which have revolutionised the way in which healthcare professionals receive professional content.
Neil Stewart is a former President of the National Union of Students. He has a postgraduate qualification in Communications, Advertising and Marketing and is a member of the Institute of Public Relations and was awarded the IPR prize for non commercial organisations in 1981 while still a student.