About the People


Mary NolanMary was born in the north-west of England. She studied English Literature at Bristol University in the 1970s and after obtaining a first class honours degree, took a Master’s at York University. Her Ph.D on the subject of ‘Empowerment and Antenatal Education’ was completed at Birmingham University in 1999.
She trained as a nurse at Gloucester and Cheltenham School of Nursing and subsequently as an Antenatal Teacher with the NCT (formerly called the National Childbirth Trust). Further training as an Assessor of childbirth and parent educators and then as a Tutor with the NCT followed.
Mary has worked as a birth and parent educator for 30 years. Her practice has encompassed rural communities in England and the busy, diverse city of Birmingham where she worked at the Women’s Hospital for many years.
Her first book, ‘Being Pregnant, Giving Birth’ was published in 1998 and this has been followed by 13 more books to which she has either contributed or been the sole or co-author. She has also published widely in women’s magazines and in professional and academic journals, including Birth, Midwifery and the Journal of Perinatal Education. Her presence on the web is to be found in multiple contributions to www.babycentre.co.uk and also to other women’s healthcare sites.
In 2007, Mary was appointed the UK’s first Professor of Perinatal Education at the University of Worcester where she conducts research and continues to work as an educator with both midwives and with the community in Worcester. She was appointed Honorary Professor at the University of Nottingham in 2012.
In 2009, she was a member of the Expert Reference Group convened by the UK Department of Health to devise an evidence-based universal parent education programme entitled ‘Preparation for Birth and Beyond’.
Mary has led workshops throughout the UK, and in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. She has presented at national and international conferences across the world.
She has three daughters and a grandson and lives in the West Midlands with her husband, Peter.

Senior Editor

Shona GoreA Childbirth Educator for thirty years, Shona is passionate about education and support for parents in the transition to parenthood.  Following nursing at Barts and St Thomas’ in London, the births of her three children kindled an interest in childbirth education, which she explored by volunteering with and working for NCT (formally the National Childbirth Trust). Shona finds the social support that mothers and fathers gain from being part of a group is one of the most positive outcomes of parent education. As a Senior NCT Tutor and New Developments Manager, Shona, in collaboration with colleagues, devised, wrote and implemented many training courses to prepare peer supporters, health professionals and students at diploma and degree level, to work with parents. These pioneering training courses have striven to offer universal access to a variety of practitioners to higher education. They have prepared students to deliver parent education programmes, rich in blended learning opportunities, to parents from a wide variety of backgrounds. The NCT Signature and Essentials antenatal courses were developed by Shona’s team. Shona was a member of the Expert Reference Group originally convened by the UK Department of Health to devise evidence-based, universal parent education programmes to be delivered under the title of ‘Preparation for Birth and Beyond’. Since resigning from NCT in 2016, Shona has focused on continuing this work in a consultancy capacity. In her role as Associate Editor of the ‘International Journal of Birth and Parent Education’, she hopes to bring together and showcase best practice in perinatal education from all over the world.


Jan MitchesonJan Mitcheson is Deputy Director at OnePlusOne, a UK charity helping people to build stronger relationships and Senior Lecturer in Public Health Nursing, University of Suffolk. She has a broad range of experience as a health visitor, teacher and practice innovator. She has always been passionate about early intervention, supporting and strengthening family relationships and her research has focused on relational interactions between parents and practitioners. She is the lead for research and innovation at OnePlusOne and is currently working on digital interventions for healthy relationships and with the Innovation Unit in developing relationship support services in local authorities. She is programme leader in public health nursing - health visiting at University of Suffolk, UK, and author of numerous publications including ‘Supporting Couple Relationships; guidance for health visitors.


Duncan FisherDuncan is Director of International Programmes at The Family Initiative. He manages the Family Included project, promoting ‘family inclusive’ maternal and newborn healthcare. The project is tracking all new research, building expert networks and developing country programmes in Africa and the Middle East. Duncan manages ChildandFamilyBlog.com, a project by Cambridge and Princeton Universities to communicate the latest and best child and family research to policy makers and practitioners. Duncan is building a network of the world’s fatherhood researchers and gathering together all the evidence at Fatherhood.Global. He is developing joint communication projects with leading parenting support channels to communicate the research to new parents. In the past, Duncan founded the Fatherhood Institute and Dad.Info, and wrote the book ‘Baby’s Here! Who Does What?’ He was awarded an OBE ‘for services to children’ in 2008. He lives with his family in the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales.


Chris CuthbertChris Cuthbert is  Director of Development for A Better Start at the Big Lottery Fund.  A Better Start is a major long-term investment, focused on developing and testing new approaches to improving Early Childhood Development in five deprived local areas in England. Chris was previously Head of Strategy and Development at the NSPCC where he led a national programme of research, service design and policy development. Chris joined the NSPCC from the Cabinet Office where he was Deputy Director of the government’s Social Exclusion Task Force. Chris has a long track record of work related to children and families, having led the cross-Whitehall review on families at risk which resulted in the government’s ‘Think Family’ agenda. He was also the lead official on parenting and early intervention policy for the government’s social exclusion action plan and was responsible for introducing a number of innovative services including the Family Nurse Partnership programme which provides intensive evidence-based home visiting support for vulnerable first time young mothers. During his time in government, Chris has worked in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, Communities and Local Government, the Department for Education and the Children & Young People’s Unit.  Prior to joining the civil service, Chris worked in the private sector specialising in social and advertising research, including work on a number of major public health communications campaigns.


Amy MacleanAmy brings to the IJBPE Editorial Board a unique blend of NHS, commercial and childbirth education experience.   She studied in the USA and has degrees in Finance and Education.  Her early career in Chicago was in change management and training for large systems implementation programmes.  After moving to the UK in 2000, she became an antenatal teacher with the NCT and has worked with the NCT as National Partnership Manager connecting the NHS to NCT’s services through its local practitioners. In 2003, she founded The Good Birth Company, now the world’s leading provider of portable birthing pools for consumers and hospitals.   Amy joined Birmingham Women's Hospital in 2014 as Head of Patient Experience where she is a champion for patients', families' and parents' voices in improvement of services. She also continues to work extensively as a parent educator.


Jane SvenssonJane is Clinical Midwifery Consultant for Health Education and Diversity Health at the Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney, Australia, one of Australia's foremost specialist hospitals for women and babies, since its early beginnings as New South Wales’ first 'lying-in' hospital for women in 1820. Jane has designed, facilitated and evaluated a wide range of educational programs and strategies, including pre-puberty, preconception, labour, birth and parenting and other women’s health programs since completing a Master’s in Public Health in 1991. She has been training antenatal and parenting educators on a consultant basis for 28 years, is co-author of ‘Effective Antenatal Education’, a distance education program that was offered through the University of New England, and principal author of ‘Breastfeeding and You: A Handbook for Antenatal Educators’, an Australian Government Department of Health publication. Jane is a past president of the National Association of Childbirth Educators, (now Childbirth And Parenting Educators of Australia, CAPEA) and currently the chairperson of the CAPEA Further Education Sub-Committee, a committee that in 2012 published ‘Competency Standards for Childbirth and Parenting Educators’. In 2005 Jane completed her doctorate entitled Antenatal Education: Meeting Consumer Needs. A Study in Health Services Development.and is currently replicating, with slight modification, this research to further determine the outcomes of the current antenatal education programs at RHW, ten years since their inception.


Matt Forde28Matt Forde has served as National Head of Service for the NSPCC in Scotland since 2010 and has set up a number of innovative services for young children. The focus is evidence based responses for children at risk; and learning how to ensure securing stable loving relationships for children who have experienced abuse or neglect. He has championed integrating new learning on attachment and healthy child development in frontline practice in specialist and universal services. His prior experience spans thirty years, including children’s social work, secure care and residential care.  From 2001-2010, as lead for Youth Justice in Glasgow, Matt oversaw research into the childhood experiences of children involved in offending. This led to his interest in early intervention.  In 2004 he became Head of Service for Children’s Services in Glasgow and in 2005, joint Head of Service in a Community Health and Care partnership, developing evidence-based, population level and targeted interventions for children. He has interests in implementation and scale up of evidence based practice, and is a regular contributor to policy and practice development on matters relating to children.  In 2014 he completed a Winston Churchill fellowship travelling in the USA and Europe to explore evidence based programmes and varying perspectives on the realisation of children’s rights.   He contributes to public debate on preventing child abuse, writing opinion pieces in national newspapers, blogs, professional journals  and in broadcast media appearances.


Idris and I

Dawn Cannon is a health professional with over 30 years’ clinical experience of working in the field. Dawn began her training as a Registered General Nurse at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire, became a midwife at Birmingham Maternity Hospital and a Registered Health Visitor at the University of Central England. Dawn’s MA was in Educational Studies at the University of Warwick. Currently Dawn is Director of Warwick Infant and Family Wellbeing Unit (WIFWU), which aims to bring together expertise with the goal of providing research, training and innovation in effective evidence-based ways. Dawn also developed and directs Infant Mental Health Online (IMHOL). This online training is the first standardised training in infant mental health for front line professionals from the multi-disciplinary team who work with babies/children and their families. One of the aims of IMHOL is to promote an understanding of the concept and development of emotional regulation in the early years and the relationship between emotional regulation and dysregulation to psychopathology and what this means for clinical practice. Dawn is also the Reproduction and Child Health Co-Lead (Phase 1) on the MB ChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery) at Warwick Medical School and a Senior Teaching Fellow. Recently Dawn has contributed to the Competency Framework for Perinatal Mental Health Professionals for Health Education England and works with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust developing and delivering their specialist perinatal mental health workforce training. Dawn is the Honorary Secretary of the Association for Infant Mental Health (UK) and is working with AIMH (UK) and the International Training School for Infancy and Early Years to develop a competence framework for Infant Mental Health Practitioners. Dawn lives with her husband Michael in Warwickshire, has two daughters and has recently become a grandmother.


Robin Balbernie is currently clinical director of PIP UK, a national charity dedicated to help establish parent-infant projects across the United Kingdom (www.pipuk.org.uk). Previously he was Professional Lead for Child Psychotherapy and Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist in Gloucestershire CAMHS. For over a decade, beginning with the UK’s Sure Start programme, he worked with the Children’s Centres in the county as clinical lead of the team providing an infant mental health service known as ‘Secure Start’. He was also involved with the Intensive Baby Care Unit at Gloucester Royal Hospital and ran supervision groups for Health Visitors for over 25 years. His interest in working with adopted children led him to the field of Infant Mental Health and early preventative intervention, and this became his speciality following a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Fellowship to look at related projects in Michigan and New Orleans. He is an advisor to the Association of Infant Mental Health and was a member of the UK Young Minds’ Policy and Strategy Advisory Group. He has published papers in many journals, including the Infant Mental Health Journal, the British Journal of Psychotherapy, Family Law, Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Attachment & Human Development, Young Minds, Nursery World, The International Journal of Birth & Parenting Education and the Journal of Child Psychotherapy.


SarahPittaway1Sarah leads the Academic Services team at The Hive in Worcester, UK, home to Europe’s first integrated public and university library, Worcestershire’s Archives & Archaeology Service and Worcestershire County Council’s Customer Service Hub.  Sarah is an associate member of the HEA and holds a PhD in Medieval Studies, having flirted with an academic career prior to embracing life as a librarian.  Her career has encompassed a variety of teaching, subject librarian and e-resources roles, working at the University of Birmingham before moving to Worcester in 2013.  Alongside her day job, Sarah writes and presents on such topics as student engagement, partnership working and the changing nature of librarianship.


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