Meet our current Honorary Fellows

The Register of Honorary Fellows is for people who make an outstanding contribution, or give outstanding service, to midwifery, maternity services, services for women and their families or to the RCM.

The RCM has awarded the following people as honorary fellows

Over his years as an obstetrician, Professor Arulkumaran always been a strong supporter of the midwifery profession. He has always believed that midwives and obstetricians should work together as equal members of a team aiming to provide the highest quality of care to women, their babies and their families. He has exemplified these ideals in his practice.

As President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists he has carried this support for our profession into a wider arena and has been vocal at a national level in lobbying alongside the RCM for there to be enough midwives to ensure that women receive a world class service and has particularly argued for the need to guarantee one to one care in labour. This latter issue was included in the recently published RCOG manifesto. He has also been a strong advocate for the development of midwifery led units and home birth services recognising that the evidence supports appropriately selected women having a choice of these services. He has initiated various collaborative projects whilst at the RCOG recognising that the two organisations have much to offer their members when working together.

Professor Arulkumaran has supported midwives not only throughout the UK but also internationally. The RCM is delighted to be continuing to work with him in his capacity as President Elect of The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO).

Professor Arulkumaran has made an outstanding contribution throughout his career but the RCM would particularly like to recognise his work as President of the RCOG from 28 September 2007 to 24 September 2010.

Sheena Byrom is a shining example of an ‘ordinary’ midwife becoming an extraordinary ambassador for the profession. She is totally committed to supporting midwives to maximise their potential to help all women to have a positive birth experience. Her memoir, Catching Babies: A Midwife’s Tale, is a Sunday Times bestseller and she was awarded an OBE in 2011 for services to midwifery.

Her name is renowned in the UK and beyond because of her use of social media. Through this she has encouraged, influenced and promoted positive midwifery practice within the UK and globally, exchanging knowledge and information, and providing support to women, student midwives, midwives, MSWs and others on a daily basis. She uses her over 7,000 strong Twitter following to build links between professions and across organisational barriers. Sheena also writes a regular blog on childbirth and circulates a maternity care newsletter bringing together key articles of interest. The regular professional on-line chats that she hosts with @WeMidwives for midwives, student midwives and users of maternity services are extremely engaging and exciting for all involved.

A practising midwife since 1978, Sheena was one of the UK’s first consultant midwives and successfully helped to lead the development of three birth centres in East Lancashire. Although Sheena has now retired from the NHS, she currently devotes her time to freelance midwifery consultancy on a voluntary basis.

Sheena is consistently willing to support any initiatives for promoting the best birth for all women and is a great advocate for holistic midwifery practice. She chairs the RCM’s Better Births Initative which aims to improve the birth experience for all women and is admired for her humour, forward thinking approach and compassion in group meetings. She devotes considerable time to this initiative working closely with the steering group and the RCM’s Better Births Advisor..

Sheena lectures nationally and at an international level on midwifery and childbirth related topics and also speaks at many RCM events. She is especially popular as an inspiring speaker at the RCM Student Midwives’ conference and is a great example for future midwives.

Sheena is very keen to promote kindness, compassion and respect in maternity care across the profession. Her advocacy for women is evidenced in her latest book Roar Behind the Silence: why kindness, compassion and respect matter in maternity care (co-edited with Professor Soo Downe). This inspirational book promises to promote positive childbirth not just in the UK but at a global level. Sheena uses her experiences both good and bad to encourage others to strive for change whilst appreciating that this is not always easy. She sees the protection and nurturing of midwifery’s ‘tall poppies’ as crucial to the future of our profession, always looking to the future and the need continuously to improve care. An inspiration to midwives everywhere, everything Sheena does and says is aimed at empowering women and midwives.

Dr Margaret Chesney having trained and practiced as a midwife in Rochdale, both in hospital and the community, Margaret completed her MTD and became a midwifery lecturer in Rochdale. In 1989 she returned to practice as a community manager for a short time before once again returning to education at Salford University. Margaret was promoted to Senior lecturer and finally to Director of Midwifery / Lead Midwife for Education at Salford University, Manchester, a post she held until her retirement in 2006. In 2003 Margaret obtained her PhD. She is well known and respected in the field of academia having published widely. She was a QAA assessor, an external examiner, a member of the editorial board of British Journal of Midwifery and presented papers at conferences including the International Confederation of Midwives.

As an innovator, leader and ambassador for midwifery she took brave decisions in championing new ways of preparing midwives. As a pioneer of case load midwifery for students she heralded a new era in midwifery education. She planned meticulously, implemented carefully and evaluated thoroughly. This is the kind of midwife educator the profession sorely needs and will miss in the days to come. Margaret has always been passionate about the midwifery profession achieving academic credibility and encouraging and empowering midwives to undertake continuing education. Her friends and colleagues have always appreciated her advice and support.

As an educator who was sympathetic and responsive to the needs of women from disadvantaged groups, Margaret made a significant contribution to improving the care of women and their families. This included travelling with her late husband Roy to Sahiwal in Pakistan, a town twinned with Rochdale. Between 1989 and 2000 she visited nine times to help promote and improve health care to the population of Sahiwal. Margaret, with her considerable midwifery education experience, set up an education programme for the training of 'Dai' women, their traditional birth attendants. Like everything Margaret did this was a success.

Margaret was and continues to be an asset to the College. She was a member of the Council from July 1998 until her retirement in August 2006. She was a member of the Education & Research Committee from its inaugural meeting in 2000 until 2005 and, more recently, a member of the Governance Committee. Margaret was a well respected member of Council who actively contributed to debate, especially at conference, continually challenging decisions to ensure they were of the best interest to midwives and the profession. Her midwifery knowledge and expertise, especially in relation to education, was invaluable. Margaret was always supportive to new members of Council, freely sharing her knowledge and experience. At local level she has been an active member of the Rochdale Branch, a member of the RCM's Board for England and she has been an RCM regional representative for the North West.

Quietly and persistently Margaret pioneered new ways of thinking about practice, midwifery education and research. Such contribution to our profession must be acknowledged and recognised publicly and enthusiastically.

The Council believes that Dr Margaret Chesney has made an outstanding contribution to the RCM, to midwifery education and to the profession and is pleased to recognise that contribution by including her name on the Register of Honorary Fellows of the Royal College of Midwives.

Ruth Clarke joined the Health Service in 1973 as a student nurse, qualifying in 1976. She studied at the Northern Ireland College of Midwifery, qualified as a midwife in 1978 and has worked continuously with, and for, midwives since that time.

She worked at the Royal Maternity Hospital (RMH), Belfast from 1978 as a staff midwife and a midwifery sister before taking up the position of Nursing/Midwifery Officer at the Jubilee Maternity Hospital (JMH) in 1988. Since the amalgamation of the two units she has been employed as Clinical Midwife Manager at the new Royal Jubilee Maternity Service.

Ruth has been a passionate advocate for the development of midwife-led care in Northern Ireland, implementing a caseload midwifery service whilst working in the JMH.

Having obtained a Diploma in Midwifery in 1984, Ruth then completed a BSc in Professional Studies in Midwifery at Queens University Belfast (QUB).

She is a guest lecturer at QUB and is a member of the curriculum planning team for both QUB and the in-service education consortium at the Beeches Management Centre. Her expertise in this area has also been sought by colleagues from the Republic of Ireland.

Ruth completed the Supervisor of Midwives course in 1996 and was appointed as a Supervisor by the Eastern Health and Social Services Board. She is currently acting as the Local Supervisory Authority Midwifery Officer for the EHSSB.

Ruth has been an active member of the RCM almost since qualifying as a midwife. She has been Branch Secretary to the Belfast Branch, was the Belfast Branch elected representative to the RCM's Board for Northern Ireland, serving for several years as the Chairman of the Board. She has been a member of RCM Council since 1994 and has served two terms of office as Chairman of Council from 2001-2005, during which time she was instrumental in guiding RCM Council through both internal RCM and external NHS reforms throughout the United Kingdom.

Ruth has led many RCM activities in Northern Ireland, including the campaign to have a midwifery advisor post established at the DHSSPS. It was fitting therefore that she became the first incumbent of the post, acting as the Midwifery Advisor to the DHSSPS from 2001 to 2004. During her tenure at the DHSSPS she was instrumental in increasing the number of student midwives training posts, introducing direct entry midwifery education to Northern Ireland and, perhaps most importantly, persuading a series of health ministers of the benefits of developing community midwifery units in Northern Ireland. This culminated in a ministerial announcement in July 2004 permitting the establishment of community midwifery units - a major achievement in the face of concerted opposition from many factions.

Ruth works closely with the RCM staff team in Northern Ireland and has established firm links with the Midwives Section of the Irish Nurses

Organisation, with whom the Board holds a joint conference each year. She is a member of ICM Council and is known and respected by midwifery colleagues internationally. She is currently actively engaged with the planning of the 2008 ICM Congress in Glasgow.

Ruth is continuing the tradition set by other pioneering midwives in Northern Ireland, such as; Dame Mary Uprichard, Liz Duffin and Eunice Foster, all of whom are RCM Vice-Presidents.

Ruth's contribution to midwifery and to the RCM has earned her the high regard of her midwifery colleagues locally, nationally and internationally and the Council is of the view that this high level of regard and work should be recognised by including her name on the Register of Honorary Fellows of the RCM.

Mary Cronk is greatly respected by her colleagues and by women and their families. She is also admired for her kindness, her common sense and her forthright steadfast views. Mary’s philosophy on midwifery has always been radical in its truest sense.

Mary trained as a nurse at Glasgow Royal Infirmary. She then trained as a midwife at Queen Charlotte’s in London. She has worked for over 40 years as a midwife and her career has been more exciting and varied than most.

She married Joe in 1957 and, as a domiciliary midwife, did her rounds on a bike carrying her sparklet oxygen cylinders with her. Joe built a boat and sailed to the Mediterranean with his family where they spent the next four and a half years.

On returning to the UK Mary worked as a domiciliary midwife. She retired from NHS practice in 1991 to set up her own practice as an independent midwife. Mary is particularly experienced in caring for women whose previous experiences have not been good and has developed a great deal of expertise in water births, breech births, twin births and normal births after caesarean sections. Mary has published widely on these and other midwifery issues. Although many of the babies are born at home Mary continues to work closely with her NHS colleagues and attends women in hospital within her practice area in West Sussex. During the course of her career Mary has helped nearly 1600 babies to be born. Every mid-summer Mary hosts a baby party at her home.

Mary has also well served her profession and her colleagues in other ways. She was a midwifery board member of the English National Board and served as an elected midwife member for England on the former United Kingdom Central Council where her midwifery knowledge and expertise on the Midwifery Committee, the Professional Conduct Committee and the Health Committees was invaluable. Mary has continued to act as a professional panellist of the fitness to practice committees for the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Mary was a member of the Council of the RCM from September 1999 to August 2003.

Mary is passionate about midwives, midwifery and women. Nothing has ever stopped her working to improve standards for both women and midwives and her fight against the routine active management of labour is legendary.

As General secretary of the RCM during a decade of intense development and change in the health services, Dame Karlene Davis firmly established the RCM as the voice of midwifery in the UK. That voice was heard at the highest level of government, throughout the NHS and extensively in the media. She modernised the RCM with her vision and strategic leadership, she restored its financial and reputational stability and she meshed into a cohesive whole the RCM’s inter-related facets of professional association, trade union, charity and business.

As a champion of lifelong learning and professional development it was perhaps inevitable that the RCM would achieve IiP status under her leadership.

In a remarkable career Dame Karlene made a real impact on the development of her profession and its standing. Her work transformed the working lives of midwives and improved the care of childbearing women in the UK and far beyond. A visionary shaper of policy and stalwart negotiator, she has been an inspiration as a midwife, an educator, and a leader having made it to the very top as the UK’s first black woman trade union leader. 

Dame Karlene made her mark in midwifery education and health services management before coming to the RCM in 1994 as Deputy General Secretary. Her service as General Secretary from 1997 to 2008 led her profession through a significant time of change.

In her period of leadership Dame Karlene transformed the RCM into the modern professional membership organisation and effective trade union that it is today.

Her determination in negotiations at the highest level of government championed the status and role of the midwife. It secured enhanced conditions and reward, consistent across the UK, through Agenda for Change. 

Dame Karlene established the Annual Midwifery Awards, at which midwives are recognised for the pivotal role they play in the health of women and families. As a result of innovations and resources developed during Dame Karlene’s period of strategic direction and leadership, midwives today enjoy greater opportunities to develop as leaders, and a range of policy, practice, education and research capital.

She brought the Triennial International Congress of Midwives to Glasgow in 2008 – showcasing UK midwifery and the RCM to a global audience. Dame Karlene also contributed to world midwifery through her leadership of the RCM’s international collaborations and her term as President of the International Confederation of Midwives, as Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Midwifery and as Vice-Chair of the European Forum of National Nursing and Midwifery Associations.

Midwifery training was put on hold for Jean Davies while she brought up three children and trained as an NCT breastfeeding tutor, counsellor and antenatal teacher.

She was a founder member of the Society to Support Home Confinements which grew from concern about the difficulties experienced by women wanting a home birth. In the 1970s the Community Health Council in Newcastle researched this issue and Jean was on the steering group.

The Community Midwifery Care Project was initiated by Jean in the 1980s, which involved getting funding for four midwives and a social scientist to look at the affect of giving enhanced midwifery care to women living in the most disadvantaged wards in Newcastle. The joint funding between Local and Health Authority reflected the work of the Project. In Cowgate, the estate where Jean worked, the Council provide a house where much collaborative work was done; with Social Services in particular. It could be said to be a precursor to Sure Start.

Jean was seconded to the Regional Health Authority to be the research midwife for the 1993 Northern Regional Study on home births. This looked at the outcome of all home birth requests. The results were published in the BMJ. After this she was appointed to the Royal College as a Midwife Advisor, which role was soon amalgamated into that of Regional Officer, a post she held until retirement.

She was always involved with the Royal College, as Secretary and Chair of the local Branch and as a Council member. Jean worked with a small multidisciplinary group to introduce ALSO training to the UK. She was keen that a multidisciplinary ethos be a core principle, with midwives, obstetricians and general practitioners having an equal footing as trainees and trainers.

She remains on the Executive Board of ALSO and being a Trustee of the Iolanthe Trust provides another continuing contact with midwifery.

Frances Day Stirk grew up in Jamaica and then moved to UK where she has lived for over 30 years, studying nursing and midwifery in England, before working as a midwife practitioner, educator and service manager. Latterly she headed up the RCM Learning, Research, Practice Development and International Affairs Department where she was part of the Executive Management Team. In this role she inspired and led the development of many initiatives, including the RCM fellowships, and was responsible for its international portfolio, including the WHO Collaborating Centre.

Frances’ outstanding efforts led to the rebuilding of the RCM’s European and global profile and to re-energising old, and developing new organisational relationships. There is little doubt that Frances’ experience with the RCM in domestic and international policy and practice prepared her for the role she now holds as ICM president. Conversant and politically aware of the issues and drivers in maternal and newborn health and midwifery, she has sat on a number of committees both in UK and overseas.

In 2011 Frances was elected by her Council delegate peers and became President of the International Confederation of Midwives. She has continued to work tirelessly to see the midwifery profile raised across the world. She has engaged with a number of agencies to move towards achieving MDG 4 and 5 and the reduction in maternal and neonatal deaths. Frances has been a real ambassador for the global voice of midwives playing a vibrant and committed role. She consistently promotes the role of the midwife to global agencies and constituencies.

Frances left many legacies when she moved on from the RCM, enabling her to concentrate on her ICM President role. Her insight and drive led to the RCM being awarded the DfID funded THET Award for the Global Midwifery Twinning Project with the Midwife Associations of Cambodia, Nepal and Uganda together with the ICM. A champion for education, Frances was involved in establishing the Virtual Institute for Normal Birth and, along with others, pioneered the establishment of the innovative RCM Campaign for Normal Birth (CNB). Since inception, the CNB has been seen as an important way of improving midwives confidence in supporting normal birth, embraced and recognised by many countries across the world as a way to help reduce caesarean section rates.

She is well respected by organisations such as FIGO, WHO, UNFPA, Save the Children; has worked in promoting and enhancing the role of the midwife especially around countries where midwives do not exist or their practice is limited. Frances has worked hard during her tenure as President to make sure that the global standards for midwifery education and regulation, are adopted and wherever possible countries are assisted in their delivery and implementation.

Frances believes that how things are progressed is to work inclusively, with others, especially civil society groups, because she recognises that without collaborative working with women, progress cannot be made and by working together you can achieve what otherwise would have been impossible.

We know that as well as the midwives who are proud to have her as their leader world-wide, her family are very proud of her especially her three children, all born at home, and her much loved grandson.

Everywhere that Frances has gone as President of the ICM she has consistently taken the midwives voice and the women of the world are richer for her input. It would be hard to think of anyone more deserving of this recognition than Frances Day Stirk who is proud to be a midwife and as midwives we are proud to have her as one of ours.

David has been one of the greatest supporters of midwives, especially in his role at the Department of Health (DH) where, as a civil servant, he advised ministers and policy teams on midwifery, nursing and allied health professionals issues, and masterminded the delivery of Midwifery 2020.

‘I am delighted the RCM has recognised that influencing policy can have a positive impact on clinical care,’ he says.

David trained in nursing at the Middlesex Hospital, London, and in midwifery at Falkirk and Stirling Royal Infirmaries in Scotland. His postgraduate career focused on adult intensive care nursing before he moved into professional leadership roles. Before moving to the DH, he was director of nursing at Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust.

Over the years, he has always remained committed and steadfast in supporting midwifery and the midwifery profession without appearing biased. 

His influence and support of the profession resulted in the DH committing to ensure there was an alternative to replace supervision of midwives. Without his intervention – and his collaboration with the four government chief nursing officers – the midwifery profession would have nothing. The voice of midwifery and rational thought in relation to midwifery practice within the DH has definitely diminished since he left.

David describes being made honorary fellow of the RCM as ‘an extraordinary, unexpected and greatly appreciated accolade’.

‘I am humbled to be joining a prestigious group of midwives and others whose impact on women, babies and the profession is highly respected, and whose significance will endure for many years to come,’ he says.

Christine Henderson is Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham in the School of Health Sciences. She has had a long career in midwifery education and was responsible for curriculum development including one of the first pilot three year pre-registration schemes. She held joint posts with the University of Wolverhampton for the training of midwife teachers and with NHS trusts for the professional development of qualified midwives. She has been involved in researching different patterns of care in two large NHS trusts, and was involved in a NHS R&D-funded randomised controlled trial looking at protocol-based midwifery care in the postnatal period.

In January 1995 she was awarded the Royal College of Midwives/Department of Health Visiting Scholarship to assist heads of midwifery services in the change in the maternity services as a result of the NHS reforms and the report of the Expert Maternity Group, “Changing Childbirth” . Her major interest is in the implementation of evidence-based practice. She worked with the West Midlands NHS Executive, Partnership for Developing Quality on issues surrounding the implementation of evidence-based practice and completed a two-year project with midwives at the Birmingham Women’s NHS Trust devising a model to make evidence-based practice a reality. She played a key role in the establishment of a national Evidence Based Midwifery Network (EBMN) which she continues to co-chair.

In the last three years she has completed two studies looking at the midwife's involvement / role in public health. The first included a mapping exercise to develop a baseline of information in the West Midlands and the second, commissioned by the UKCC Midwifery Committee, focused on the role of the midwife in public health within the four countries of the United Kingdom.

Consultancies have included career development for midwives in NHS Trusts, learning sets for the RCM consultant midwife group and ongoing work for the West Midlands Local Supervising Authority. She was instrumental in the development and launch of the British Journal of Midwifery and continues to be its professional Editor. She has written widely and has just completed the revised editions of CTG Made Easy and (with Sue Macdonald) the textbook for midwives, Mayes' Midwifery.

Anne Jackson-Baker has made an outstanding contribution to the Royal College of Midwives' overall vision and policy and the achievement of its strategic and operational goals.

Having trained as a State Registered Nurse in 1967, Anne fulfilled her long held ambition and trained as a midwife at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital qualifying in 1972. She practised as a clinical midwife for 20 years then as a midwife teacher for 3 years. She joined the RCM in 1986 and became a member of the staff of the RCM in 1992 as Senior Professional Officer for the north of England. She was appointed as the first Director of the RCM UK Board for England in 1994, a post she held until her retirement in 2006. Anne led two strategic RCM advisory groups: the Heads of Midwifery and the Education Advisory Group. Her wisdom served to guide the leaders of midwifery in England through some very stormy waters and her overarching knowledge of what was driving and influencing midwifery and midwives in England empowered them to help shape the future.

Anne's recent successes have been evident in her input to the NHS Midwifery Leadership Programme which developed the Midwifery Leadership and Competence Model and the RCM approved workforce planning tool, Birthrate Plus, which is providing much needed benchmark data on midwifery staffing levels. Additional to her very demanding role as Director of the Board for England, Anne was the midwife lead for the Association for Community Based Midwifery (ACBM) where her hard work & dedication helped to drive this multi professional group at a particularly politically sensitive time.

Anne was also the RCM link to MIDIRS and the Maternity Alliance and was an active participant in the successful bid to the Dept of Trade and Industry to develop IT communication with union members.

The Council is proud to include the name of Anne Jackson-Baker on the Register of Honorary Fellows of the RCM.

Anne Jarvie CBE is Chief Nursing Officer/Director of Nursing at the Scottish Executive (formerly the Scottish Office) Health Department, a post she has held since February 1992. For three years prior to taking up this appointment she held the post of Deputy Chief Nursing Officer at the Scottish Office, and various managerial and clinical posts before that.

In her present post she advises ministers in all matters relating to nursing, midwifery and health visiting in Scotland, and is responsible for purchasing pre-registration nursing and midwifery education from the Higher Education Sector in Scotland.

Miss Jarvie trained as a RGN (Registered General Nurse) in Glasgow Royal Infirmary and as a RM (Registered Midwife) in Cresswell Maternity Hospital, Dumfries.

She led the development of the document A Framework for Maternity Services in Scotland and supported the Expert Group on Acute Maternity Services (EGAMS). In the course of this work, the training needs of midwives working in midwife-delivered care units were identified. Appropriate programmes to meet these needs have been developed, and midwives are now having the opportunity to access them. The role of the midwife in ‘normality’ has been re-established and accepted by the multidisciplinary team. She led the development of the Strategy for Nursing and Midwifery in Scotland, Caring for Scotland, and the review of the contribution made by nurses and midwives to the public’s health, Nursing for Health, both launched in March 2001. She led the development of Choices and Challenges: The Strategy for Research and Development in Nursing and Midwifery in Scotland (2002).

Miss Jarvie is an Honorary Doctor of Laws of Dundee University, an Honorary Doctor of Education of Robert Gordon University, an Honorary Doctor of Nursing Napier University, and Honorary Doctor of Science of Glasgow Caledonian University and an Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University of Stirling. She is an Honorary Member of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine. She was awarded the CBE in the Queen's New Year Honours List in 2000.

Gail Johnson works as an Education Advisor at the RCM.

Since joining the RCM in 2005 Gail has been instrumental in developing the RCM’s online learning programme, i-learn. This learning resource - free to RCM members - is one of the RCM’s most successful products. i-learn supports midwives and maternity support workers to keep up to date and informed about their role and work. There are currently over 100 courses on i-learn, with many more in the pipeline, and it has over 19,000 RCM members regularly using it.

Gail has also led on the development of the RCM’s work around leadership in maternity services, including conferences and workshops. This has been so successful that it was shortlisted for a Health Service Journal award.

Her work and expertise around reducing stillbirth and improving bereavement care has also led to this Honorary Fellowship for Gail. She has been the key RCM figure working with other health professionals, government departments and families’ organisations to raise the profile of this issue, leading to better care for women and their families. Her work in this area includes establishing an annual bereavement conference co-hosted with Sands and Bliss. 

Gail has also found the energy and resources, largely in her spare time, to edit Mayes’ Midwifery (15th edition). A text book which is one of the mainstays of midwifery education and is used by midwifery students and midwives across the world.  

Professor Tina Lavender has been a major influence in promoting midwifery research both nationally and internationally. Her unique skill is in making research real. Using research to solve problems or prove theories on the 'frontline' of midwifery has encouraged midwives to be part of the process and have ownership of the research, knowing that it has changed the knowledge base of midwifery. Tina makes research accessible and understandable, therefore enabling midwives to feel confident to be involved in research.

She successfully built up a large credible research unit at Liverpool Women's Hospital which has been a major step forward for the midwifery profession, assisting in building up our knowledge base. Her publications have been influential and questioning of practices based only on tradition. She regularly speaks at conferences, sharing her research knowledge with us. She has written over 50 papers, 4 book chapters and edited 2 books. She has presented 46 peer reviewed papers and has been an invited speaker 70 times.

She has credibility within the profession and with fellow researchers, chairing or being a member of 4 research steering committees and 14 professional groups. Tina has contributed to many government documents and groups as a midwife's champion in research, including Making a Difference (DOH 2000), The National Service Framework for Children (DOH 2004) and temporary advisor to The World Health Organisation (October 2006, Geneva).

Tina has a passion for sharing her skills and knowledge with Africa. The African midwives have a special place in Tina's heart. She sees their determination to improve maternity care and reduce mortality rates and is helping them to do this through a number of collaborative projects. Tina is also a member of The White Ribbon Alliance for safe motherhood and is helping to raise funds to train midwives in Life Saving Skills, in Tanzania.

Tina is now Professor of Midwifery and Women's Health at the University of Central Lancashire and has been awarded the title of Honorary Consultant Midwife at Liverpool Women's Hospital.

Nothing is ever a problem to Tina; she has the biggest smile and the warmest heart and is truly passionate about how she can contribute to our profession.

The Council is delighted to add the name of Professor Tina Lavender to the Register of Honorary Fellows of the RCM.

Throughout his long and varied career, Professor Paul Lewis has made an outstanding contribution to the midwifery profession and the care that women receive. Additionally he has been an active and involved member of the RCM and has held various positions within the College both at the local and national level. He has held the following positions within the RCM:

  • Honorary President of Dorset Branch (Current)
  • RCM branch member of Bournemouth & Christchurch (Current)
  • Member of Council (March 1994 until May 1996)
  • Vice Chair of Council
  • Chair of the Industrial Relations Committee
  • Representative on RCOG/GMSC/RCM liaison group
  • Representative on the RCGP HIV Specialist Group
  • Member of the Education Advisory Group and Head of Midwifery Services Group
  • Honorary President of Southern Thames Branch (Until Jan 1993)
  • Branch Secretary Southern Thames Branch

Professor Lewis has always believed passionately in continuity of midwifery care and the autonomous practice of the midwife. From 1991 to 1995, whilst Director of Midwifery Services at the West London Hospital, he built on the established development of team midwifery that had been introduced by previous managers. This resulted in the innovative 'Group Practice Approach to Midwifery Care'. This scheme was further extended and developed at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and his seminal series of papers published in MIDIRS helped others in creating similar schemes throughout the UK.

Since his appointment in 1995 as the Academic Head of Midwifery and Child Health at Bournemouth University, he has introduced exciting and innovative educational programmes that support student midwife caseload practice and created new ways of working for qualified practitioners. In many ways he has influenced midwifery practice across the Wessex region enhancing the care that women receive. He is a true midwifery leader and has inspired many midwives and student midwives to improve their care to women and to practice with greater confidence In June 2000, Paul was conferred as the Professor of Midwifery Practice & Development, an honour richly deserved.

Professor Lewis has always spoken out for mothers, midwives and midwifery, totally supporting the autonomous role of the midwife. His dedication and commitment to midwifery was reflected in his work with the UKCC when he was elected in 1997 as the midwife member for England. During this time he was the Deputy Chair of the Joint Education Committee and Deputy Chair of Professional Conduct. He was also a member of the UKCC's Education Commission which set the medium and long term direction for nursing and midwifery education (Peach Report 1999).

In 2001 he was appointed by the Privy Council to the transitional Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) where he held a number of key roles. In 2006 he was once again elected to the newly established NMC and has recently been elected by his peers as the Chair of the Strategic Conduct and Competence Committee and more importantly perhaps to our profession, as the Chair of the Statutory Midwifery Committee.

Throughout his distinguished career he has worked across professional boundaries, seeking to strengthen the role of midwives and highlight their unique contribution to mothers, families and the community. He remains a Supervisor of Midwives at Poole NHS Trust and is an Advisory Faculty Member of ALSO (UK) teaching on both its provider and instructor courses throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland and beyond. He has provided consultancy on the development and quality of maternity services and more recently has chaired the Do/-I Education and Development Group on the future of the midwifery education workforce as part of the six point plan on the recruitment, retention and return of midwives to the profession.

He has written numerous publications, was a founder member of Practising Midwife and currently serves on the Editorial Board of the British Journal of Midwifery.. He is well known for his frequent and often challenging conference presentations, which over many years, he has delivered on the local, national and international stage.

In 2003, Paul was appointed as the first Visiting Professor of Midwifery at the Kwong Wah Hospital in Hong Kong. He has worked closely with the Hong Kong Midwives Council for many years and was previously the external examiner in midwifery to the Chinese University. His international work has include the Al Comiche Hospital, Abu Dhabi, the Karolinska Institute, in Sweden and UNISA in South Africa.

In his very full and demanding life as a midwife, Paul continues to maintain his involvement in clinical practice and has been a member of many committees and working parties to enhance the role and reputation of the midwife and the profession.

The Council is delighted to recognise the contribution of Professor Paul Lewis to the midwifery profession by including his name on the Register of Honorary Fellows of the RCM.

We honour Sue Macdonald for her outstanding contribution to midwifery and midwifery education throughout her career.

Sue first trained as a nurse at Guy’s Hospital London. Her midwifery training was originally intended as an additional qualification for her CV, but she never looked back, becoming a passionately committed midwife and dedicated champion of professional development in midwifery.

She worked in all fields of midwifery practice, including a year’s work experience in Australia, before moving into education, supporting student development at all levels. As Principal lecturer in Midwifery/Lead Midwife for Education at Middlesex University, London, she developed a range of innovative curricula from pre-registration to Master’s-level, and led midwifery research activity within the midwifery and family health academic group.

Her interests lie in the contribution and practice of midwifery academics, continuing professional education and development of midwives, reflective clinical practice, work-based learning and innovative curriculum development across midwifery.

Many RCM members will have first known Sue Macdonald’s name as the co-editor of Mayes Midwifery: A Textbook for Midwives, the definitive resource relied upon by generations of student midwives in their development. Sue has had a key role in evolving this publication since [ ].

Sue’s contribution to the RCM began in 1989 when she was first elected as a Branch chair before joining Council in 1992, where she served until becoming a member of RCM staff in 2003. She also served as a Benevolent Committee member. As Education and Research Manager for the RCM, her role covered shaping and delivering the full range of education, continuing professional development and research activities, including collaborating with other organisations nationally and internationally in developing continuing professional education for midwives.

Sue’s contribution is particularly distinguished for her endeavour to make reflective practice central, relevant and applicable for midwives. Not only did she ensure continued professional development activities were supported with resources for reflection, but this philosophy was integral to Sue’s contribution to the development of the RCM’s electronic learning platform RCM i-learn and portfolio resource, RCM i-folio. Today over 5,000 RCM members have participated in online training and development through the RCM.

Sue’s passion for midwifery education extended beyond the UK, especially in her leading role in the RCM and WHO Safe Motherhood Project Educating the Educators. This work with the Macedonian Health Department and Macedonian Association of Nurses and Midwives developed the professional role of the midwife in Macedonia through involving midwives in their own education and curriculum development.

Sue’s achievements also include her work on the RCM Examination of the Newborn learning resource project and managing research projects such as the national Perineal Assessment and Repair Longitudinal Study (PEARLS).

Believing so strongly in the importance of building the research capability and evidence-base for midwifery, Sue has now committed herself to completing her PhD thesis on care and compassion in midwifery and is working on this alongside providing consultancy work in midwifery since leaving the RCM at the end of 2012. Her love and passion for her chosen profession continues and she remains an asset to midwifery and midwifery education.

Qualifying as a midwife in the 1980s, Rona has more than 25 years of experience in various leadership roles at national level – including in perinatal research, developing professional standards and national policy for maternity services, and in evaluating safety and quality in healthcare. 

She has been an epidemiologist in maternal health, leading multidisciplinary teams and collaborative networks at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, and was inaugural professor and HoM at the University of Southampton. Rona has also been a midwifery advisor at the Department of Health in England and was national professional advisor (maternity) at the Care Quality Commission. 

Her background in healthcare strategy development and delivery, evaluation of service standards and delivery, and reviewing quality and safety of maternity services has supported and influenced RCM strategic objectives. 

Rona was key to the development of RCM standards for midwifery services in 2016, and in the same year co-chaired a multidisciplinary stakeholder group that produced an RCM/RCOG framework for standards in maternity services.  

A non-executive director on the board of NICE for nine years, she is a member of the wide and influential network of senior midwives who strive to ensure midwives’ contributions are fully taken into account to make the difference for women and their families.

‘It’s great to be honoured in this way but, really, it’s as much for the people I have worked with who have given me the opportunity to think about midwifery and the contribution that midwives make,’ says Rona.  

In 1992 Dame Lorna Muirhead became a member of the Council of the Royal College of Midwives and, in 1997, President of the Royal College of Midwives. She served two terms of office, demitting in 2004. Throughout this time she continued to work as a clinical midwife, as she had for over 30 years, on the delivery suite ‘at the bedside’ of pregnant women, caring for all with compassion and skill.

During her presidency she ably represented the Royal College of Midwives and midwifery in many arenas, both national and international, including:

  • the Council of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG)
  • the joint RCM/RCOG committee
  • the Standing Nursing and Midwifery Advisory Committee (SNMAC)
  • the Women’s National Commission
  • the Council of the International Confederation of Midwives
  • the Specialist Register of the English National Board
  • the Benevolent Fund Committee of the Royal College of Midwives Trust
  • the Council of the Kings Fund
  • the National Service Framework for Midwifery

In addition Dame Lorna also found time to be a midwifery adviser on Baby Lifeline; a member of the Council of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine; national midwifery adviser for St John Ambulance; and the Deputy Lieutenant of Merseyside.

Dame Lorna is all-encompassing, sweeping everyone into her circle of friendship, cooking for them, eating with them and sharing her love of life with them. We all have tales to tell of the fun we have had with her, of sharing stories, sharing laughter and sharing food. This love of her fellow man, and woman, has won Lorna respect and affection wherever she goes and midwives everywhere reap the benefits of this.

Her passion for midwives, midwifery, women and their families was acknowledged in 2000 when she was awarded Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for services to midwifery. In 2001 she became a fellow of the RCOG and was made an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University in the same year.

In 2004, to universal acclaim, Dame Lorna received the inaugural award from the Royal College of Midwives for her lifetime achievement in midwifery.

Maggie O’Brien has been a member of the RCM since 1979. She worked as a regional officer for 2 years from 1995 to 1997. Maggie served as a member of RCM Council from 1997 to 2008 and was President from 2004 to 2008. Maggie has always shown commitment and passion for both the profession of midwifery and the RCM. Both as a Council member and as President she has given unfailingly of her time and knowledge. She has been a great resource for members of Council and has always maintained a professional manner and good humour with respect for all.

Maggie was an RCM steward from 1980 – 1995 giving time, commitment and expertise to clinical grading panels, as well as other support activities. Maggie has been a midwifery manager in high profile positions since leaving the RCM in 1997. In these roles Maggie has shown herself to be a dynamic and innovative leader supporting a change of culture from consultant led services to a model of midwifery care that is empowering for midwives and women. However it is her commitment to the RCM that shows Maggie to be deserving of the honour of Honorary Fellow. She has sat on many committees and presented at conferences particularly promoting partnership working with other colleges, such as the RCOG where she was a member of the working groups that produced Towards Safer Childbirth. Maggie has achieved all of this whist managing a day job as Director of Midwifery and General Manager at a large and complex NHS Trust. Maggie has always been supportive and encouraging towards newer members of Council.

Maggie has shown sustained commitment and passion for the RCM and our profession over many years.

Dora Opoku OBE was awarded this honorary fellowship shortly before her death in December 2010.

Dora had recently retired from her post as Head of the Department of Midwifery and School of Community Health and Health Sciences at The City University London. She was appointed to this post in 2001 but her link with the Department of Midwifery began in 1984 when plans were underway to re-open the School of Midwifery at The London Hospital and a highly motivated enthusiastic midwife teacher was needed to lead the school.

At the time Dora was working as a midwife teacher at St. Thomas’s Hospital where she was a much valued member of the team however she decided to apply for the post and was appointed as Senior Midwife Teacher at The London Hospital.

Dora brought many skills to the post and central to these was a passion for ensuring that women and their families received the care that they needed and deserved. She was especially interested in women with complex needs and in the cosmopolitan and social deprived area of Tower Hamlets she thrived. Firstly she set about establishing her education team making sure they had the skills and confidence to do their job and to re-establish the training school.

Dora also recognised that, to create the learning environment which would allow student midwives to gain the skills and attitudes required for their complex work, it was essential that the professionals working within it demonstrated these skills in their work and were able to pass these skills on to the students with whom they were working. On-going education for the midwives and others working within the maternity department was Dora’s next priority. Whilst encouraging those who were keen to learn and progress Dora also focussed on the midwives who were more reluctant to take advantage of on-going education. She spent time with people listening to their concerns and anxieties and developing with them training plans with which they felt comfortable and which would enable them to become the mentors that Dora knew were essential to all students.

As a result of Dora’s enthusiasm and team leading ability the School was reopened and with in a short time established a reputation as a progressive and dynamic school.

Dora also contributed to the development of the midwifery service as a whole. She recognised that, in an area where approximately 40% of the women were from minority ethnic groups and many were recent immigrants from Bangladesh who spoke little or no English, traditional services may not be the most appropriate model. When funding was agreed for a pilot project to establish a small team of hospital based Maternity Aid Workers. Dora established a training programme designed to allow them to move beyond the role of interpreters to having a much more active role in taking the initial booking history as well as providing antenatal and post natal support working alongside the midwife, the doctors and other maternity support workers. At the time many were sceptical of the scheme and felt that the Maternity Aid Workers were taking a role that could only be properly fulfilled by a midwife. Dora listened to these views and addressed the concerns expressed but remained resolute that care must be suited to the woman’s needs and a prerequisite of this was that the woman should be able to speak directly to someone who could understand what she was saying and who she could get to know. The pilot scheme was successful and supported woman in Tower Hamlets for over 20 years.

Dora never saw midwifery as a stand alone profession. She worked extremely hard to develop a good working relationship within the multi-disciplinary team. They recognised that Dora was driven by a wish to see professionals working together in the best interests of the women and families for whom they were providing care. Dora became involved in the training of medical students and helped to unite a midwifery and medical team that had at times found it hard to reconcile professional differences.

Dora’s ability to think beyond and around the normal patterns of care and the assumptions upon which they were based inspired many of her students. She also supervised midwives undertaking MSc studies encouraging them to undertake research that would challenge the ways that women were cared for.

Dora showed outstanding leadership skills in moving and establishing the Midwifery Education Department within the City University and during this time her sphere of influence spread. Dora undertook consultancy work with the ICM, RCOG, RCM, BPAS, UKCC, Department of Health, WHO and Columbia Health Care. Her commitment to women’s care and education was always paramount and she was committed to fairness and justice in all circumstances. Her interest and knowledge in ethics led to her appointment in 1996 as the Chair of the City University Research and Ethics Committee, a post that she held until her retirement.

Dora spent over 40 years working within the midwifery profession. She showed outstanding commitment and leadership. She was inspired primarily by her desire to ensure that all women receive the standard of care they deserve in an environment that is safe, kind and understanding of their needs. She worked tirelessly and with good humour to provide midwives with an education framework that supports them throughout their professional lives and in so doing gained the respect and admiration from all those who worked with her. In 2003 Dora was awarded the OBE for her services to midwifery. Sadly, Dora passed away on 17 December 2010. She will be greatly missed by her profession.

Lesley Page is president of the Royal College of Midwives. She was the first professor of midwifery in the UK at Thames Valley University and Queen Charlotte’s Hospital. She is a renowned international academic, advocate and activist for midwives, mothers and babies with more than 32 years’ midwifery experience. Her accomplished career has encompassed clinical practice, management and leadership, academic and policy work. She has practised midwifery in the community, hospital and home birth settings.

She is also a Visiting Professor of Midwifery at the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, King’s College London, Adjunct Professor University of Technology Sydney and Visiting Professor, University of Sydney. She has worked and lectured around the world. She was a member of the Expert Maternity Group that wrote Changing Childbirth, published in 1993, and was specialist adviser to the House of Commons Sub-committee responsible for investigating the state of maternity services in 2003 and adviser to the King’s Fund enquiry into the safety of the maternity services in England 2007-2008.

Lesley received the International Alumni Award University of Technology Sydney in 2013 and was conferred with an Honorary DSc by University of West London in November 2013. In 2014 she was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE).

Dr Robyn Phillips was born and educated in Australia before coming to the UK. She trained as a midwife in Cardiff. Robyn practised midwifery in Cardiff and in Melbourne, Australia, before undertaking teacher training. She worked as a midwifery teacher in South Glamorgan and then in Gwent before taking up post as a lecturer in education at University of Wales, Cardiff. In her University post, Robyn was involved in teacher training and research.

Robyn was an elected midwife member of the Welsh National Board (WNB) and subsequently Vice Chair, then Chair of the Board’s Midwifery Committee. She was appointed Professional Adviser (Midwifery) in October 1996.

Robyn has been involved in several national and international initiatives. These include teaching management to nurses and midwives in Kenya; trustee and member of the selection panel for the Iolanthe Trust; alternate member of the UK delegation on the EC Advisory Committee on the training of midwives; member of the UKCC Working Group to review Midwives Rule 33 and develop requirements for pre-registration midwifery education; member of the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Core Group and Specialist Midwifery Group to develop the QAA Benchmark Standards; Vice Chair of the Midwifery Specialist Working Group providing advice on behalf of the UKCC/NMC to the European Commission on midwifery education in the Slovak Republic, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Bulgaria in preparation for these countries joining the EC and advising these countries on their midwifery curricula; member of Welsh Assembly Government Advisory Groups to determine a strategy for midwifery in Wales and to determine a research strategy for nurses and midwives.

Robyn has presented papers at a number of national and international conferences and has publications to her credit. She is a member of the editorial board of the British Journal of Midwifery. Robyn gained her master's degree in education in 1989. Doctoral studies were successfully completed in 2001 with a thesis on the occupational socialisation of midwives.

In Parliament Kerry Pollard has been a good friend to midwives and to the Royal College of Midwives.

He is an excellent advocate for midwifery and has sponsored and co-sponsored early day motions relating directly to midwives, mothers and babies. These have included: midwifery partnership, midwifery education, midwifery standards, testing new babies for deafness, and breastfeeding.

On campaign issues (including recruitment, retention and pay for midwives, and public protection which the RCM raised during recent changes to statutory regulation) Kerry Pollard has been willing to sit in the Commons for many hours to catch the Speaker’s eye so that midwifery issues could be raised. In recent years he has also sponsored four receptions on behalf of the College.

At local level he has campaigned with midwives and mothers to retain midwifery services in Hemel Hempstead and St Albans. Partly as a result of his efforts the General Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives opened a midwife-led unit at Hemel Hempstead at the end of March 2003. Kerry meets with local midwives on a regular basis and he has spoken at RCM meetings and Conferences.

Patricia Purton in her 23 years of service in the National Health Service and further 14 years as Director/Board Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives UK Board for Scotland has made an outstanding contribution to the midwifery profession. Her exemplary and consistent leadership as Director of the Board for Scotland has steered the profession through complex organisational changes. She has effectively lobbied and influenced managers, educationalists and clinicians at all levels whilst providing a welcoming environment at the Board for Scotland for all Scottish Midwives.

Patricia has championed the RCM's profile in the Scottish political arena. Since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament she has worked closely with ministers across all parties, forging effective relationships and demonstrating the positive value of midwifery and its contribution to improved birth experiences of women in Scotland.

Her trade union partnership work with the Scottish Partnership and as co-convenor of the Scottish Human Resources Conference has strengthened the RCM's standing and reputation in Scotland.

Her most significant contribution has been in lobbying for, and her central role in, the development of A Maternity Services Framework in Scotland, the first of its kind in the UK. She has acted as a catalyst for change at both policy and operational levels encompassing, enabling and ensuring the full use of midwives skills.

The Council is proud to include Patricia's name on the Register of Honorary Fellows of the RCM.

As a woman and a leader:

  • Lesley is an advocate for midwives – ‘a midwife’s friend’ and truly understands and promotes the benefits of high quality midwifery care
  • Together Lesley and Gill have championed improvements in maternity safety, jointly, influencing maternity strategy across the four countries. Together, they have developed One Voice with a Common Purpose and have secured funding for the second phase of the RCOG’s Each Baby Counts (EBC), which will enable midwives and obstetricians to translate data and priorities in health policy to improve clinical practice
  • Lesley is only the second woman to hold office as RCOG president and the first in 64 years
  • Lesley advocates for all clinicians to focus on the provision of high-quality care and to embrace their role as advocates for women, recognising that many women have no voice of their own

Lindsay Reid is recognised for her career as a midwife and also for her contribution to the study of the history of midwifery in Scotland.

Born in Banchory in the North East of Scotland, Lindsay trained in midwifery in 1978–1979 in the Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport, South Wales and practised as a midwife in Guildford, Kirkcaldy and in the community in Fife. Later, Lindsay taught midwifery at Forth Valley College of Nursing and Midwifery which is now the University of Stirling.

Following early retirement from teaching in 1994, she practised as a Bank Midwife in Stirling and Falkirk before becoming a Research Assistant with the Midwifery Research Group at the University of Glasgow and the Royal College of Midwives Scottish Board in April 1996. Her research included amongst other issues, Midwives and Woman Centred Care.

From 2000 to 2001 Lindsay worked in education and research at the Royal College of Midwives UK Board for Scotland, Edinburgh.

In 2003 she gained a PhD at the University of Glasgow with the thesis: Scottish Midwives 1916–1983: The Central Midwives Board for Scotland and Practising Midwives. Using the Records of the Central Midwives’ Board for Scotland (CMB) and oral testimonies from midwives of all ages across Scotland, she focused on the shaping of midwives’ identity from 1916 to 1983 and the extent to which the CMB and other agents and events limited or facilitated this.

Lindsay’s interests lie in midwifery, women’s issues, writing for publication, research, oral and archival, the need to care for and preserve archives, and Scottish history. She currently researches and writes for publication on midwifery issues in journals, parenting magazines and online. She is the author of Midwifery: Freedom to Practise?, Scottish Midwives: Twentieth Century Voices, Keeping Childbirth Natural and Dynamic: A Resource and Midwifery in Scotland: A History which was published in 2011. Lindsay has been fantastic in providing the RCM UK Board for Scotland with archive material she has found during her research which she is keen to ensure is shared with others.

Lindsay continues as an active member of De Partu and is keen that the message of the story of midwifery in Scotland is not lost. She has been working closely with the Director and officers of RCM Scotland visiting the Universities to talk to student midwives about the History of Midwifery in Scotland. This is in preparation for the celebrations for the centenary of the Midwives (Scotland) Act in 2015 in which Lindsay will be taking a very active part. In all of the universities Lindsay has spoken in and those still to come Lindsay has given every student midwife a copy of her book on midwives voices. The feedback from these sessions has been stunning. In 2009, Dr Reid was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the RCM Annual Midwifery Awards.

Jane is an outstanding member of the midwifery research community and is highly regarded in the field of maternal and reproductive health research both nationally and internationally. Her research is interdisciplinary between the clinical and social sciences and focuses on the implementation of maternal health policy and effective solutions at a health system and service delivery level.

Her work has encompassed the organisation and outcome of birth in different settings (Birthplace in England), efficient use of the maternity workforce and the implications for safety and quality in maternity care (Continuity of Carer), social and organisational implications of the translation of novel health technologies into health care, role of rapid response systems in the management of escalation of care in acute medical and maternity settings, and the engagement of patients and families in their own safety. Her research outputs have been phenomenal and as a lead investigator she is a major contributor to the development of midwifery knowledge globally

Jane is an NIHR Senior Investigator and passionate about the work she does and encourages and supports midwives to become more involved in midwifery research, gain midwifery research knowledge and skills and strengthen their application skills in bidding for funding to undertake midwifery research. 

She has been an active member of the RCM and was elected as a Board member and took on the role Deputy Chair. Being awarded an honorary fellowship recognises the outstanding work Jane has done in the field of midwifery research as well as her commitment and contribution to the work of the RCM.

Louise Silverton worked for the RCM for 24 years as Director for Education and Development, Deputy General Secretary and Director for Midwifery. She is a CBE and previously Treasurer and a Council Member of the RCM. 

Louise has a huge set of achievements nationally, in Europe and internationally. An accomplished lecturer, influencer and expert in midwifery she has shaped the professional, research and educational world of midwifery and maternity services. She has led for the RCM on professional strategy, regulation, annual awards, global activities, standards and guidelines as well as research and evidence based practice. She has overseen Midwives and Evidence Based Practice, is a Zepherina Veitch Memorial Lecturer as well as a member of the MIDIRS Advisory Committee.

She has been a member of both the RCOG Audit and Global Committees. Louise has been central to the RCMs relationship to the midwifery and obstetric academic community.

She is the author of The Art and Science of Midwifery and a range of other publications. A frequent media personality, Louise could be said to be the ‘expert voice of midwifery’.

Monica Thompson has enjoyed a distinguished career as a midwife and midwife activist. Her lode star has been the health of women and babies and the contribution that the midwifery profession can make working in partnership with women. She has spent most of her professional life working in Edinburgh where before joining the National Board for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting in 2001 and was Professional Development Adviser at the Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion (SMMP). An acronym fondly interpreted by some as Sex Made Me Pregnant!

With the establishment of NHS Education for Scotland (NES), Monica took up the role of professional Officer Midwifery and subsequently Programme Director for Midwifery and Women’s Health in 2003.

Whilst at NES, she contributed to quality assurance of all Midwifery and Neonatal Nurse education programmes until 2005.

She also made a major contribution to the professional development of the midwifery workforce by leading in educational and service development initiatives in priority areas.

Over this time she has made significant contribution to a range of government initiatives including, most recently Midwifery 2020.

This work has also extended in her role as NMC panellist on the Professional Conduct Committee and as a member of education committee of UNICEF.

Here in the RCM, Monica has served as Chair of RCM Council, as a member of the Policy and Practice Committee and as Chair of the Finance and Personnel Committee. Monica has also been very active for the RCM in Scotland, serving both as Chair and Honorary Secretary of her local RCM Edinburgh and District Branch. From 1999 until 2001 she was Chair and Honorary Officer of the Royal College of Midwives UK Board for Scotland. She represents the RCM UK Board for Scotland as Director and Trustee on the Nurses Benevolent Fund for Scotland.

Cathy trained as a midwife at Queen Charlotte’s Hospital, qualifying in 1976. She worked as a midwife at Kingston Hospital and St Mary’s Hospital before qualifying as a midwife teacher.  She worked as a tutor at St Mary’s throughout the 1980s and during this time she completed her MSc in social policy.

In the early 90s she became head of the department of womens health studies in the North London Joint College of Nursing and Midwifery and became head of midwifery and gynaecology nursing at King’s College Hospital in 1994, now holding the post of General Manager for Women & Children’s services combined with Director of Midwifery.

Throughout her career Cathy has worked to support midwives in promoting women -centred care and to encourage choice / reduce unnecessary intervention.  At King’s she runs one of the largest homebirth services in the country and in 2004 Kings maternity services received a Department of Health commendation for reducing the caesarean section rate.

Cathy has written and lectured widely on the organisation of midwifery care and supporting midwives and has worked with maternity units in the UK to promote women-centred care.

In 1999 Cathy became a member of the UKCC and was also appointed to its successor body – the Nursing and Midwifery Council.  As chair of the statutory midwifery committee she has worked to ensure that regulation is used to promote the highest standards of midwifery practice in the provision of women-centred care.

In 2004 Cathy was appointed as Honorary Professor of Midwifery at Kings College London in recognition of her contribution to the institution including her collaboration on research projects.

Cathy is a well respected midwife who has contributed greatly to advancement of the midwifery profession.  Her achievements and accomplishments are vast and she is a voice of considered reason and counsel.  Cathy constantly challenges the status quo with new ways of developing and delivering women focused care.  She has published widely in many journals and disseminated caseload midwifery practice as a workable national model in the NHS.  Her leadership and vision supported and championed the Albany midwifery practice to be included in the local NHS sector as independent midwives practitioners and this model remains a facet for midwifery care provision.  Her charisma and excellence in midwifery has brought about fundamental change for women both locally in an inner London deprived social setting and nationally as caseload midwifery practice has evolved.

She has supported and developed her senior staff and midwives and Cathy has been an example with her skills of management and leadership.  A number of midwifery initiatives at Kings have won local and national awards and recognition.

Cathy has sat on various advisory committees at the Department of Health relating to midwifery workforce and service issues.

Cathy has visited midwifery services in Sri Lanka, South Africa, Hong Kong, China and America. 

Apart from her active working life she has a busy social life. She has three children, loves mountain biking, motorbike riding, reading and regularly goes to films, theatre and opera. 

The name of Marie Washbrook is synonymous with Birthrate Plus - a framework for workplace planning and strategic decision making in maternity services by which trusts can ascertain the number of midwives they need.

Marie trained as a nurse and midwife in Oxford and gained extensive experience in clinical, managerial, audit and informatics posts at local and national levels. Marie has led the project since the Department of Health funded (through the RCM) a six month implementation programme in 2001. She initially combined leading the project with her post of Head of Stakeholder Relations Nursing and Allied Clinical Professions at the NHS Information Authority, in which role she did much work to ensure that the midwifery voice was heard in the development of information systems.

Since 2005 Marie has worked full time as the programme director and has conducted studies in more than 200 units in England, in the whole of Wales and supervised the project’s implementation throughout Scotland. Marie is currently completing roll out across all services in New South Wales Australia.

As a result of a database which Marie constructed to store local data gathered year by year, it has been possible to identify anomalies in assessing midwifery staffing which were not recognised before and to assess new demands upon midwife time. Her work has also enabled ratios to be produced of midwives needed for different types of hospitals/clinical case-mixes which are now being used for projecting staffing needs at both national, SHA and local Maternity service level.

None of this information would have been available without the work of Marie Washbrook and the respect with which her work is held both by her midwife colleagues and other managers and Board members at PCT and SHA level. As a result of her work countless maternity services have been enabled to review their use and deployment of midwives and, in many cases, an increase in the numbers of midwives have been funded.

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