Meet Our Trustees

 


 

 Sylvia Shearer - Chair

As a civil servant, I took early retirement as a Policy Analyst from the Scottish Government in August 2011. I worked closely with Ministers and colleagues in the Department of Health, Home Office and the Ministry of Defence and advised on a variety of policies such as managed migration in Scotland and various aspects of NHS provision of health care. As health is a devolved issue, I represented Scottish interests on a number of UK Committees.  In my last posting I headed up the Scottish Government’s policy unit on NHS maternity services and infant health. This included addressing inequality of NHS provision of infertility services in Scottish Health Boards. I had previously been responsible for blood policy, including the setting up of a public inquiry, chaired by Lord Penrose, into the acquisition of Hepatitis C from blood and blood products within the NHS in Scotland prior to the introduction of testing.  I also developed the flagship policy of the then, First Minister on managed migration, entitled “The Fresh Talent Initiative” to encourage more talented individuals to come and live and work in Scotland to support public services in a time when the demographics indicate further pressures are looming and also to increase economic activity within Scotland. In 1998 I obtained a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Napier University.  Upon retiring in 2011, I accepted the newly created voluntary post of Community Ambassador for Marie Curie Cancer Care for Edinburgh and the Lothians, and was also invited to join the Board of INUK .  I hope to continue to contribute to the strategic direction of these charities in these difficult and challenging times.  I also advise the recently formed Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Scottish charity (FAS Scotland) on the development of campaigns and policy strategies.


 

Louise Evans - Treasurer

I have recently joined the Board of Trustees for I N UK as Trustee and Treasurer.  I became aware of the charity around 2007 when I first discovered that I was unlikely to have children of my own. They were an incredible source of information and also a positive reminder that I was not on my own and that there were many other people in my situation. I feel strongly that infertility and its long term implications for everyone affected, is not discussed or understood enough. I N UK has an incredibly important role to play in supporting all those affected and acting as an advocate in the wider discussion.  I am committed to supporting I N UK in its work and trying to give something back to an organisation that provided so much support to me.

In my professional life, I am a qualified accountant and member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales. I have held executive finance positions in a range of businesses, from owner managed organisations to listed groups.  I want to bring my technical skills to the charity and help support the Trustees, Susan and the fantastic team to continue and build their work


Dr Rachel Duffy

I am so pleased to join the board of Fertility Network UK. I, like so many others, have been affected and impacted by infertility experiencing my own personal journey to become a mother. I was challenged to understand and navigate the complex and confusing system of care, conduct my own research and make difficult decisions on clinical options, and ultimately co-ordinate my own care plan and treatment. Just as challenging and difficult was the need to attend to my own mental and emotional wellbeing to build and maintain my resilience and ease my feelings of distress and isolation. I hope that in accepting this position I will be able to support the fantastic work of the charity in raising awareness of infertility, supporting those struggling to conceive and those living with infertility, listening and being a voice on your behalf, and working with and influencing professional bodies.

In my professional life I have over 20 years’ experience in Organisational Development and am a Doctor of Board Effectiveness and Strategic Organisational Development. My experience has been gained in the public and private sectors - the last ten years working at a national and strategic level in the NHS specialising in: senior leadership development, board effectiveness, transformational change, and improvement. I am currently working with General Practice developing system leadership and providing change and improvement expertise to help them implement new models of care, redesign services, and introduce new ways of working. I have held board positions as Trustee of a youth charity, and School Governor.

I feel I have much I can contribute to the work of the charity and the board from my personal and professional experience. Being a Trustee is a privilege. It provides me with the opportunity to make a difference, supporting a cause I feel passionately about. I endeavour to serve you to the best of my abilities and sensitivities, and know you will find us open, welcoming and supportive. 


 

Jessica Hepburn

I am delighted to be joining the Board of I N UK at a really important time in the charity's history as well as my own journey to motherhood (or possibly non motherhood). 

I was diagnosed with 'Unexplained Infertility' when I was 35 and have since become a veteran of the fertility world having been through eleven rounds of fresh and frozen IVF at numerous clinics which have resulted in several miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy, but sadly as yet no baby.

For a long time I went through treatment in secrecy as I felt so sad and ashamed about what my body couldn't do, but shortly after I turned 40 I started writing about my experiences. In spring 2014 my book, The Pursuit of Motherhood (www.thepursuitofmotherhood.com) was published and since then my life has changed completely. I have spoken about my story and the fertility industry in magazines, newspapers, TV, radio, conferences and events. I also now write a regular column for Fertility Road Magazine called 'From A Patient Perspective' as well as a weekly blog on my website. Going public on my story has not only helped me tremendously, but I also hope that it's helped other women to feel less alone.

I am passionate about raising awareness of the emotional effects of infertility; championing equality of access to treatment; improving patient care; and encouraging more understanding and research into the causes of infertility.

In my professional life I have worked in the arts for many years and currently run a theatre in London. I am also writing a new book and training to swim the English Channel! 

 


Melissa Hillier

I have over ten years’ experience of working within the voluntary and public sector in both communications and management positions. I have extensive experience of communicating with a variety of audiences involved in healthcare, including patients and families, support group staff, health and social care professionals, industry representatives, academia and policy makers.

I am currently Director at Positive Action on Cancer, a charity that provides counselling and support to patients and families living in Somerset and Wiltshire who have been affected by cancer and other life threatening conditions.

Prior to this I have experience of working in local government within a busy press and communications team as well as working as Assistant Director at Genetic Alliance UK a national patient organisation working with families affected by genetic conditions. 

I came across the work of I N UK through my professional life, but began using its services and support as a member when my husband and I encountered fertility issues.  Like many small charities, I am always impressed by the depth and breadth of work that is undertaken by such a small team and the enthusiasm shown to improve the services, information and support that families deserve.   Having been through the IVF process and used I N UK’s services, I hope that I am now able to give back to the organisation in a way that is helpful and supportive, using both my professional and personal experience of using I N UK services and support. 


Carol Hulley

I became a More To Life steering group member in January 2011 and feel passionate about improving access to support for anyone who is affected by involuntary childlessness.

My working background has been very much centred around health care. Having qualified as a nurse and midwife, I worked in the NHS for 25 years, predominantly as a midwife. Since then I have done a counselling course and an MA in public health. I currently do bereavement support work for the local hospice.

I feel honoured to be representing the members of MTL on the I N UK board. I have met many good friends through MTL and look forward to representing the needs of those whose journey through infertility has ended without children. I feel strongly about: promoting health, especially mental health; supporting people in need; ensuring people know where to go for support and can access it readily.

I love walking, especially in the hills and enjoy music of nearly all descriptions. My other hobbies include: playing in a wind ensemble, singing, travelling, gardening and eating!


Jill Martin

It is a privilege to join the committed and enthusiastic Board of I N UK and I embrace the challenge of supporting the charity.

I am a qualified nurse and worked in a GP practice for seven years which gave me a greater understanding of the emotional journey that couples experience whilst going through fertility treatment. I am committed to raising awareness and it is my mission to strive to improve services.

My first association with the charity was two years ago when I began working in this field and I made contact with the local representative for Northern Ireland. I was extremely impressed by her personal commitment and personally moved by her own story. Since then I have been a keen advocate of I N UK as I see it as a place that individuals can feel supported and get impartial information about treatment in a non-threating environment. We see it as a priority to lobby government to offer more quality and consistency to fertility services on the NHS and I have been working with the charity to address these issues with local authorities.

My nursing background led me on a different path and for the past twenty years I have gained experience in a commercial environment within the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. My hope is that I can add value to the Board to provide more education, lobby government and offer support to individuals who hope to have families.


 

Nicky Murray 

I have personally experienced the trials, tribulations and luckily, the immeasurable joy of conceiving twins through fertility treatment. At the time, I N UK did not exist and I know just how helpful such a charity would have been to us back then.  Now, as a Trustee of the charity, I hope to give back to others experiencing fertility challenges and to make a positive contribution in my personal capacity.

 
I currently run my own consulting business and have a depth and breadth of corporate experience, which I hope may prove useful and of benefit to I N UK. At the same time I am delighted to have the privilege of working alongside my fellow Trustees, all of whom have a combined wealth of knowledge and expertise. It is stimulating, challenging and rewarding to be a part of this charity’s future – life is precious and a new life miraculous! We look forward to hearing from you and heart-warmingly encourage you to engage with us.

 

 


Antonia Rodriguez

I am a qualified English solicitor working for a major oil and gas company and have spent many years working overseas in that time.  Upon my return to the UK, and having experienced fertility challenges as a couple, I was keen to get involved with the charity and to support it in its efforts to help those who everyday are undergoing their own challenges. In addition to legal skills, I bring to the Board a familiarity with the various aspects of a business, such as the planning cycle, financial and budgetary issues and general commercial matters.  And personally, I bring an empathy and real life experience of what it feels like to have to undergo fertility treatment, and to be on that journey trying for a family.

When we were going through our fertility challenges, the one thing that struck us the most was how little support and information there was out there shared with young men and women wanting to, or thinking of perhaps one day, having a family.  And yet suddenly, when diagnosed with fertility issues, we realised how common a problem it was, with one in six couples experiencing these challenges.  To our surprise, when we started to talk of our challenges, we were amazed at the number of people who came forward and shared their own stories and experiences. 

Organisations such as Infertility Network UK, therefore, play a vital role in supporting people wanting to create their own family, be it via either IVF or adoption, or deciding to lead a child-free life.  The opportunity to get involved with the organisation represents a very exciting prospect, and I hope one that can help to make the path of infertility easier for folk to manage.  To help remove some of the stigma that exists about talking about fertility issues, and to hopefully make the next generation of men and women better informed on this topic so as to prevent some of the avoidable cases of infertility.  It would make me very happy if GPs and practice nurses could be encouraged to speak more pro-actively with their patients on these topics.