Tommy’s news, 11/06/2018
We are incredibly pleased to congratulate our very own Sally Tennant who has been made an OBE (Officer of the Order for the British Empire) in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for her work in maternity services to research into miscarriages and stillbirths.
I feel super proud for Tommy's. For me it is a team award.
As both a patron and trustee of Tommy's, we are overjoyed to see Sally recognised for her work and dedication to maternity services. To celebrate this honour, find out more about Sally and her work with Tommy's.
How did you become involved with Tommy’s?
In March 1992, my husband and I had our first daughter, following three miscarriages. I was feeling so blessed and thrilled after Francesca was born, I wanted to help Tommy’s to show my gratitude.
Over the next three years, we did some fundraising, including an opera evening at Kensington Palace and a fashion show, and I was then invited to become a trustee. For me, that was really important, to be able to give back and to make sure that we raised funds to solve the problem so that other people didn’t have to go through what my husband and I went through.
I then became co-chairman of the trustee board, sharing the chairmanship with Ron Dennis for around 15 years until April 2016 when I stepped down from this role and became a Patron.
What difference to you think Tommy’s is making in the lives of women and families across the UK?
Tommy’s has made a very big difference to the lives of families in the UK.
When I first became involved with the charity in the 1990’s maternity services were a low NHS priority, the miscarriage rate was unknown, there were over 6,000 stillbirths in the UK a year and the pre-term birth rate was rising. There were few screening tests and treatments and no support for families who had suffered losses.
Today the Secretary of State for Health has set targets for the reduction of stillbirth and preterm births and there are many initiatives underway to improve maternity safety and experience for parents to which Tommy’s is contributing evidence and expertise.
Pregnancy loss statistics are being collected, stillbirths have virtually halved to around 3,000 a year and the preterm birth rate is 8% and stable.
In addition Tommy’s has developed a fantastic pregnancy information service reaching over 1 million parents each month and is focused on reducing the risk factors in pregnancy.
As a Patron of Tommy’s, what would you like to see the charity achieve in the future?
Tommy’s funds four large research centres focusing on improving antenatal care to prevent miscarriage, prematurity and stillbirth and is opening a fifth centre next year to specialise in the spread and adoption of best practice care across the NHS to reduce poor outcomes.
I would like to see the output from these centres reach hospitals and parents in other countries with unacceptable levels of pregnancy loss. In the same way that for every pound that the charity raises, the Tommy’s research centres raise an additional five pounds, I would like that for every life saved in the UK, five babies are saved outside of the UK.
What would you consider success for Tommy’s?
Success for Tommy’s is to help achieve the targets set by the Secretary of State for Health; halving stillbirth and reducing preterm birth from 8% to 6% by 2025.
This means that 2,000 fewer babies will be stillborn and there will be 14,000 fewer premature births each year.
What has been your proudest moment since joining Tommy’s?
There are so many things that I am proud about regarding Tommy’s.
The CEO and her team are outstanding; they have a strong ‘can do’ team culture and a laser focus on delivery.
In addition I am super proud of the recent event that Tommy’s organised, the London Landmarks Half Marathon, which not only raised funds for Tommy’s and enabled a wider audience to engage with the cause, it also helped 100 other charities raise funds for their great causes too.
However, the absolute proudest moment was the opening of the fourth centre in 2016, the centre dedicated to early miscarriage. A centre dedicated to find solutions for those painful silent deaths which still affect one in four of all parents.
This centre is the first dedicated research facility to tackle this unacceptable problem and in time will help many parents, who like me want to make sure other families don’t have to suffer this terrible outcome.
Why would you encourage others to support Tommy’s?
Because miscarriage, preterm birth and stillbirth affect so many people.
Reducing the number of lives lost and helping premature babies reach full term in order to give them the best start in life is fundamental to the long term health of our society.