Leanne is the Founder of Aching Arms. In June 2010, a year after her son James died, she set out to support the mental health and emotional well-being of parents who experience the loss of their much-loved baby. When the charity gained its registration with the Charity Commission in 2013 the trustees appointed Leanne as part time Charity Coordinator.
In January 2019 she was appointed full time CEO. Leanne’s role is to provide effective leadership and management of the charity’s strategic and operational aims. James remains at the heart of all the work she does for Aching Arms. Prior to founding Aching Arms, Leanne was an Education Consultant for an Inner London Education Authority for 8 years and teacher of secondary English, Drama and History for 11 years.
Lindsay became a volunteer for Aching Arms in 2015, shortly after the death of her second son, Henry. She is now the charity’s Bereavement Care Manager and in that role manages the Supporting Arms service. This includes arranging for comfort bears to reach families who request them, developing and leading training for health care professionals and offering advice and support to anyone working with bereaved parents. Lindsay manages the volunteer postal team and the Supporting Arms team and also provides support directly to bereaved families who contact the charity.
Lindsay is a healthcare professional, having worked as a Speech and Language Therapist for 18 years. Two years ago she began working as a Bereavement Midwife Care Assistant alongside the Specialist Bereavement Midwife, at a local hospital. In that role she met and supported families and their special babies in the hospital and continued to support them in the community and during subsequent pregnancies. Lindsay now works full time for Aching Arms.
Laura was appointed as part time Operations Manager for Aching Arms in July 2018. She oversees the day to day running of the charity, provides assistance to the Chair, Trustees and CEO and manages our team of 150+ volunteers. She also organises the provision of bears to families and hospitals and supports an ever-increasing number of hospitals, hospices, befriending groups and funeral directors who wish to offer Aching Arms bears to parents. Each month, Laura ensures that all the precious babies names, for whom bears have been dedicated in memory of, are added to our Dedication List.
Before working for Aching Arms, Laura worked for an investment bank in the City of London and has a Degree in Business Management. She is very proud to work for such an amazing charity and loves being able to offer a little comfort to families who need it.
Roberta became a volunteer for Aching Arms in 2014 after receiving great comfort from the bear she received from Aching Arms in the post, after her first pregnancy loss. Roberta started her volunteer role by preparing bears for two London hospitals and then went on to assist the charity’s social media and fundraising teams in 2019.
Roberta is a graduate of Nursing & Social Work and had a previous career as a Children’s Social Worker. Before working for Aching Arms, Roberta ran her own business providing Business Support and Social Media Marketing, and worked with Aching Arms as a freelancer in 2020 managing the charity's social media platforms. Roberta brings all of her skills, experience and knowledge to her role of Digital Marketing Manager.
Karen was proud to join Aching Arms in February 2019 having followed and supported the charity since it was founded.
Karen is our part-time Fundraising Manager and her role is to support our community of wonderfully loyal supporters with their creative, fun, and often emotive fundraising events and sporting challenges in memory of babies special to them. She manages our annual fundraising campaigns - Forget Me Not Tea Party, Miles in Memory, and the Christmas Campaigns. Her vision is to help Aching Arms to develop and grow whilst retaining our small charity passion and values.
Karen is a graduate in accountancy and finance and a qualified accountant (FCCA). Prior to joining Aching Arms, she had a 20-year career in finance. She has worked for the British Red Cross and the Terrence Higgins Trust as well as finance roles in higher education and primary education.
Claire joined Aching Arms part time in 2023 as project lead for the Be Together programme. Following the loss of two babies in pregnancy, Claire has developed a passion to support parents and their families following baby loss.
Her role within the Be Together programme is to organise events for bereaved parents and families to attend to find comfort, friendship and support whilst creating new memories together.
Claire has a Master’s degree in physiotherapy and worked as a senior physiotherapist in the NHS for 15 years prior to joining Aching Arms. She is proud to be working for Aching Arms in this new chapter of her life.
Ilana has supported Aching Arms since September 2018 after losing her first baby Joel. As a result of receiving an Aching Arms bear, Ilana became passionate about the charity and its values. With her husband Adam, she volunteers for the charity in order to support and help other bereaved parents and families. The two worked together on a training video for health professionals, raised money with their families for Aching Arms, and most recently spoke about their involvement with Aching Arms on Global's Make Some Noise Day. Ilana joined Aching Arms in January 2023 as our Community and Events Fundraising Officer, providing support to our fundraisers.
Ilana brings to her role many years of experience fundraising locally and nationally for causes close to her heart. She has a BA Hons Degree in Musical Theatre and prior to joining Aching Arms, worked as an SEN Learning Support Assistant and was actively involved in the fundraising sector. Since Joel's death, Ilana has held fundraising events for her local hospital's maternity charity, raising funds for maternity bereavement care. Ilana is honoured and proud to be a part of the Aching Arms team in her role as the Community Fundraising and Events Officer.
After following Aching Arms on social media, Kate was honored to join the charity in 2021. Having lost a baby during her first pregnancy, Kate feels grateful for the opportunity to support other parents and families.
Kate is a freelance business support assistant and marketer who is studying to become a digital fundraising manager. Her responsibility within Aching Arms is to assist our digital marketing manager with overseeing our social media platforms, in particular monitoring messages and comments to ensure the safety of our online community. Recently, Kate assisted our fundraising manager with fundraising administration and communications.
After graduating from university in 2008, Kate worked as a children's safeguarding social worker and supervised social worker, supporting foster carers in West Sussex. Kate feels extremely proud to be working with such an incredible charity.
Sharon was a founding trustee of Aching Arms. She was one of the first bereaved mothers who volunteered to get the charity started in 2010. After the loss of her daughter Lily, Sharon welcomed the opportunity to reach out to help other families devastated by the loss of their baby. She worked with Leanne to establish the fundamentals of the charity, the style of bears, the ribbon colour and carefully chosen key messages that would go with each bear.
Sharon has fundraised in her local community and became the volunteer Merchandise Manager in 2013. In this role, she has established an excellent range of charity merchandise, available for purchase and for promotional use. In August 2020 we were delighted to appoint Sharon as part time Charity Merchandiser where she continues to run our charity shop. Sharon is an experienced Primary School Teacher working in the West Midlands and is very happy that Lily’s memory lives on through her work for Aching Arms.
Danielle was honoured to Join Aching Arms in February 2022 after the loss of her baby during pregnancy. Receiving an Aching Arms bear gave her great comfort and she wanted to be able to help bring that comfort to other parents and families who have experienced the loss of a baby.
Danielle works for Aching Arms part time, to help assist with the day to day running of the charity. She ensures the volunteers have everything they need to get bears into hospitals in order to provide comfort to families in need. Danielle’s work background involves a variety of different administration positions, from being a front office manager in a hotel to working in education as an administration officer.
Erica Stewart is a bereaved parent and mummy to Baby Shane who died following major heart surgery at 8 weeks old in 1983. She has three living adult children; Baby Shane was her third child.
Erica has 25 years’ experience working with bereaved parents and families at Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity). She started working as a volunteer on the Sands helpline in the mid ‘90s and after two years she became employed at Sands and worked her way up to Bereavement Support and Awareness Specialist working across all Sands teams. During Erica’s time at Sands, she co-facilitated the South East London Sands Support Group.
Erica trained at CBUK in Advanced Facilitation Skills and is a qualified counsellor and has her own private practice. She brings her knowledge, skills and experience to Aching Arms in her role in the Care Team.
Sundeep was elected as Chairperson of Aching Arms in September 2018. She has been an advocate of raising awareness of stillbirth and baby loss after her own experience of giving birth to her stillborn baby boy in September 2014. She works across her corporate network in improving corporate policies and practices towards pregnancy loss.
As the Chairperson for Aching Arms, she is responsible for ensuring that the board of trustees fulfill their responsibilities for the governance and the strategic direction of Aching Arms.
Professional life: Sundeep is a seasoned business executive having worked in many global organisations in senior leadership roles. She has lived in many parts of the world – India, New York and London and has worked in large financial services organisations. She has extensive experience in building strategic partnerships with large and mid-sized organisations and government bodies. She has relationships with members of the media and press. She is also an active contributor to various publications on topics that are close to her heart. Her contribution to the Huffington Post on baby loss has been widely read and circulated.
Click here to view the 2021 Chair’s report
Sarah started volunteering for Aching Arms in 2012 after the loss of her daughter Rose. She wanted to help others somehow and through finding Aching Arms and receiving a bear she knew this was a way to help other families. She started by helping to prepare bears for her local hospital and fundraising in her community. Sarah found preparing the bears and writing the dedication cards an emotional but worthwhile role that would help other bereaved families. She wished to become more involved with the charity and became a trustee and the charity’s first Fundraising Coordinator in 2015. She has helped grow the charity’s finances significantly by increasing the number of fundraisers.
In 2016, Sarah became the Treasurer of Aching Arms. She works closely with the current Fundraising Coordinator, Merchandise Manager and the CEO to ensure Aching Arms has the finances needed to meet its aims. Her work for Aching Arms is Rose’s time. Sarah is a small business owner of a pet supplies shop in Lancashire.
Anna has been involved with Aching Arms since 2012, following the death of her daughter Erin when she was 22 days old. In this time, she has fundraised, raised awareness, trained as an Ambassador and prepared bears for a local hospital/support group. Professionally, Anna works as a Senior Clinical Psychologist in the NHS and is registered with the HCPC. Anna has worked in mental health services for over 15 years and currently works with older adults who are experiencing a crisis associated with their mental health. Through her academic training and clinical work Anna has learned about bereavement and grief and has experience of working therapeutically in this area.
She is keen to support Aching Arms to develop their involvement in research and is also involved in promoting and supporting the wellbeing of those who work and volunteer with the charity.
Melissa joined Aching Arms as a volunteer in 2013, following the death of her first-born Madison Veda. Melissa is the hospital coordinator for four of her local hospitals in North West England, supporting both the Delivery and Early Pregnancy wards. She has spoken at various events, including bereavement study days, on behalf of the charity and she speaks passionately about Madison and how Aching Arms has helped both her and her husband cope with their loss. Melissa is a trained Ambassador for Aching Arms and a keen fundraiser who was elected a Trustee in February 2018.
Melissa is currently a teaching assistant at a Special Needs secondary school and a part time domiciliary carer for a private care company. Melissa has worked as a customer relations and complaints resolution manager prior to this. Melissa is also mum to her four rainbows.
Donna started volunteering for Aching Arms after losing her daughter Violet in 2013. Initially focused on preparing bears for her local hospital in Southampton, she soon branched out to become an ambassador, delivering training in hospitals across the south coast. Donna has utilised her skills over the years to support Aching Arms in creating strategy and delivery plans to support the growth of the charity. More recently Donna has been helping to grow the corporate exposure, managing the LinkedIn pages and supporting the design and delivery of the workplace training
Donna has worked for a global insurance company for 15 years, focusing on management of change and transformation activity. Outside work, she has two children and enjoys live music and theatre. Donna became a Trustee for Aching Arms in January 2022 and is looking forwards to bringing her passion for better workplace support for baby loss and change management skills to support the charity.
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