Our 2019 AGM: hellos and goodbyes

On 16 November, NCT members gathered at Woburn House in London for our Annual General Meeting 2019. Find out about the exciting announcements made.

Guest speaker

Guest speaker Marian Knight

The afternoon started with a guest speech from esteemed Professor Marian Knight of the National Perinatal Epidemiological Unit (NPEU).

She asked what we could do as individuals to reduce maternal deaths. As co-author of the MBRRACE report, which shocked people on its release in 2018, Marian presented the facts in an engaging speech.

Black mothers are five times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. Women living in poverty are three times more likely to die postpartum. Heart disease is not being picked up in pregnant women. New mothers with deteriorating mental health are still being dismissed.

These inequalities are difficult but necessary to talk about. She urged us to empower all women to speak up and ask questions about their healthcare.

NCT response to report

The MBRRACE report aims to save lives and improve the care of new mums. Read a summary of it here.

Our Senior Policy Advisor, Elizabeth Duff, commented on these findings: ‘We’re outraged that a woman’s mortality during pregnancy is linked to her ethnic origin in the UK today. It is not acceptable that Black and Asian women are at higher risk of dying during pregnancy and this inequality, which has widened in the last year, needs to be urgently investigated and addressed.

‘The report also brings up the question of whether it’s ok to take medication for health problems during pregnancy. Women can be nervous about taking any medicines when pregnant or breastfeeding, but it’s important for the health of an expectant mum that she gets any recommended treatment she needs. There are medicines which are safe, and her own good health is as vitally important as the baby’s.’

Other business

Our outgoing Chief Executive, Nick Wilkie, spoke about the first proactive three years of our ambitious strategy and how we plan to reach all parents. Read about it here.

The business of the AGM continued with NCT Chair, Jessica Figueras, looking at the past year. Trustee Richard Smothers took us through the Annual report and accounts. And after a Q&A, members voted to approve them and last year’s minutes.

Announcing our new trustees and President

The NCT Trustees, including new trustee Joanne Powell (front row, left) and new trustee and President Sherry Bevan

We’re delighted to welcome two people to the board following our elections. Joanne Powell joins as trustee and Sherry Bevan as trustee and NCT President. Congratulations to them both.

Joanne Powell is an active NCT practitioner and volunteer in Wales. She said: ‘Bringing up my own family on a low income, I am only too familiar with the lived experience of social inequality.

‘Living and working as an antenatal and postnatal practitioner in one of the most deprived areas within South Wales, I am keen, able and credible in supporting the board and charity in moving forward on this agenda and aware of the challenges.

On her election, she added: “It is an honour to have been elected to be a trustee for our organisation. After being a volunteer and practitioner for some time, I am looking forward to the new challenge in supporting the charity as we move forward to support more parents”.

New NCT President, Sherry Bevan

‘As a Trustee, I will work to ensure that our aim of reaching all parents is met. I am passionate about the injustice of health inequality within the first 1,000 days. Part of the context for NCT’s work is that around 4.1 million children (30%) are living in poverty.’

Sherry is a passionate breastfeeding counsellor and staff member, leading our IT transformation project. She’s resigned from her staff role now in order to take up the role of President.

In her acceptance speech, Sherry spoke of making NCT more visible. ‘I want us to make a real proper difference.

‘I want parents to feel strong, confident, and to feel valued and supported as they become parents.

‘We have important valuable work to do over the next five years. And I truly believe that by working together, staff, volunteers, and practitioners, we can and we will achieve this.’

And some goodbyes

Carey Oppenheim resigned as a trustee last month to start a new role alongside training to be a counsellor. Carey said: ‘I have really enjoyed getting to know you all, working together and with the executive team, learning about NCT and the wonderful work it does and the difference it makes to mothers, fathers and babies. I will stay a member and follow NCT’s fortunes.’

Jess also said goodbye to Elgan Owen, who’s stepping down after two years as Chair of the Regional Volunteer Support Network (RVSN). He’s staying on as Volunteer Regional Coordinator for Wales. We’re grateful for all his tireless volunteering work. We welcomed Fiona Doyle, Regional Coordinator for London as the new Chair of RVSN.

Caroline Flint

Jess gave a heartfelt goodbye to our trustee Caroline Flint, who’s now served her full term.

Named in the press as ‘Britain’s most famous midwife’, Caroline is even more to our charity. She’s contributed a tremendous amount to us and to midwifery.

Now a retired NCT practitioner, she facilitated classes for more than 45 years. Overlapping that, she’s been a midwife for over 40 years.

Throughout her time as a trustee, Caroline has remained a passionate advocate for women and home birth. She also created Britain’s first birth centre.

Over the years, Caroline has organised jumble sales, Nearly New Sales, picnics, sponsored walks, parties and First Aid Courses – a host of local activities essential for parents.

And farewell, Nick

Our current Chief Executive Nick Wilkie is leaving after five years transforming and modernising our charity for the better. He’s going to be the main carer for his three children as his wife takes up the role of Chief Executive in another charity. Read more here.

For continuity, our Director of Parent Services, Juliet Mountford, will be Acting Chief Executive as we look for a replacement.