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 a Trustree, the Client Care Manager and a hospital volunteer. In her role as the Client Care Manager, Lindsay 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's role inludes management of the volunteer postal team and the Supporting Arms team. She 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. She meets and supports families and their special babies in the hospital and continues this support back into the community and through to subsequent pregnancies.
Laura was appointed as part time Operations Coordinator 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.
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 Coordinator 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.
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.
Roberta became a volunteer for Aching Arms in 2014 after receiving great comfort from the bear she received from Aching Arms after her first pregnancy loss. She is the local hospital volunteer for two large London hospitals and also volunteers her time to answer private messages on our Facebook page. Roberta is a freelance Business Support Assistant and Social Media Manager. She assists our Fundraising Coordinator with fundraising administration and has recently begun managing our social media platforms.
Before working with Aching Arms, Roberta worked in an administration role in education and after completing a degree in Learning Disability Nursing and Social Work, she worked as a children’s social worker.
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 2020 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.
Claire was elected as a Trustee of Aching Arms in 2013 when the charity was formally registered with the Charity Commission in England and Wales. Prior to this she volunteered for Aching Arms, where her roles have ranged from posting bears, answering private messages on social media, organising fundraising auctions and arranging meeting venues. Claire experienced five recurrent miscarriages and her work with Aching Arms is done in their memory and in the hope that other women and their partners find support after an early loss.
Claire’s professional background has always been customer focused. She currently works in the sales team with Avanti West Coast Trains. In her professional career, Claire has always been customer/people focused. She is gregarious and able to talk to people easily.
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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