Our story

From a campaign that began in a spare cupboard in St Thomas’ Hospital, Tommy’s is now the largest UK charity researching the causes and prevention of pregnancy complications, miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and neonatal death.

Tommy’s was founded in 1992 when two obstetricians at St Thomas’ Hospital in London - Dr Ian Fergusson and Dr Anthony Kenney - couldn't and wouldn't accept the lack of answers surrounding premature birth any longer. Together with one of their patients, Lucy Nelson, they decided to start a campaign raising money for pregnancy research projects. The campaign grew into Tommy’s charity.

  • In 1997 we opened the UK’s first ever pregnancy research centre at St Thomas’ Hospital, focusing on pre-eclampsia and premature birth.
  • In 2001, we opened our Maternal and Fetal Research Centre in Manchester to tackle stillbirth and investigate the role of the placenta in pregnancy.
  • In 2008, we opened the Tommy’s Centre for Maternal and Fetal Health in Edinburgh, looking at how stress on mothers from conditions such as diabetes and obesity can affect pregnancy.
  • In 2016, we went further still and opened the National Centre for Miscarriage Research, the largest of its kind in Europe. 

We knew that research alone wasn’t going to reduce the numbers of babies who die; we had to actively support parents and channel our research into the best possible care and advice. So in 2002 we opened Tommy’s PregnancyLine, allowing women and their families to speak directly to our midwives and address their concerns. 

Our midwives are able to spot risks early and give callers the advice they need. They also help to develop and maintain our PregnancyHub. By offering expert advice on everything from baby movements to nutrition and exercise, the PregnancyHub empowers women to have healthier and safer pregnancies.

We concentrate on sharing our knowledge from our centres and implementing it across the NHS, so that every family can have access to the best possible care. To that end, Tommy’s National Centre for Maternity Improvement was founded in September 2019. This is an alliance between parents, midwives, doctors, the NHS and academic experts, to drive improvement in maternity services and save babies’ lives.