Maternity & Midwifery Forum

Midlands Maternity and Midwifery Festival Trailblazer Awards

The Midlands Maternity and Midwifery Trailblazer Awards celebrated winners and commendees on the 16th May. The Awards recognised outstanding achievement and commitment to maternity and midwifery services over the past year across the Midlands.


Narrowcast Media Group produced, filmed and live streamed the Awards Ceremony on the day. You can watch back the ceremony on-demand today and catch up on all of the action from the day that you may have missed.

Watch the ceremony (below) and take a look back at some of the best photos from the day in this article.


Midwifery Education Trailblazer Award

Sue Nyombi

Senior Lecturer

De Montfort University

 After fifteen years in midwifery education Sue’s love and passion for her work never wanes.  

As admissions lead, Sue works tirelessly to attract and recruit the best students to DMU, providing a quality experience for candidates. Her ethos around inclusion and widening participation translates into real action. She has developed student interviews that reflect contemporary challenges in midwifery, tackling difficult subjects such as racial bias in maternity care. She is uncompromising in ensuring admissions procedures are in alignment DMU’s philosophy of decolonisation and zero tolerance of discrimination. 

Sue consistently strives to provide the best quality experience for our midwifery students, who value her teaching and her support on academic and pastoral issues.  Sue was closely involved in our recent curriculum development and her detailed understanding of current issues in practice enhanced this. Sue has a passion for midwifery and an unwavering ability to stand up and be counted when the need arises!   

She is an outstanding mentor to new members of the team as feedback testifies: 

 “My journey from practice to education was made lighter by Sue’s sense of humour and easy going approach. But scratch the surface and it is clear that she cares deeply about the service users accessing maternity care; the excellence of that care; the student midwives being unleashed into it, and the impact good quality midwifery education has on all of these. I see her motivate students (and colleagues) to seek the evidence to support their viewpoint, do the right thing, stand up for what they believe in and be the absolute best they can be. Sue is, and will continue to be, an inspiring influence”.   

Sue has great links with our practice partners, commanding respect and enhancing practice/theory cohesion. For all these reasons and many more, Sue is a true Midwifery Education Trailblazer. 



Midwifery Education Trailblazer Award

Dr Helen McIntyre

Associate Professor, Programme and BFI Lead

University of Leicester

Helen is tireless leader who has shown courage and determination in helping our new Midwifery program achieve BFI Baby Friendly status. She has been an inspiration in the amount of knowledge she has passed on to us from her PhD work and ongoing positive adaptations to the University and to clinical placement.   

The impact of her work can be seen in positive changes to maternity handheld notes in the trust and the manner in which students and staff approach infant feeding conversations. She has made groundbreaking changes in ensuring the whole University campus abides by the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes by ending the contract with a coffee supplier, due to their unethical marketing practises. In addition, she has ensured that the University has installed infant feeding rooms on campus to support parents and create an inclusive space.  

Her teaching on the Infant Feeding Baby Friendly module has been set out in a spiral curriculum formation, with each subsequent year of study building on the knowledge of previous years. This has been instrumental in building our knowledge and natural conversational approach to supporting with infant feeding in practise. Helen has adopted all learning styles, teaching us through conversation in a seated group, using spoken discussion, open questions, planned assessments, written quizzes and created condensed trigger guides for the BFI Accreditation material from evidence-based standards. The module has encompassed not only conversational technique but additionally delved into complex anatomy and physiology, bio specificity of breastmilk vs formula milk, the role of hormones and supporting infant feeding for women and babies with additional care needs. This training has enabled the MSci Midwifery with Leadership four-year undergraduate course to gain accreditation as BFI ‘Baby Friendly’. This has been the culmination of countless hours of study, seminars, teaching, and inspiring students to go further than their perceived potential.  



Student Midwife Trailblazer Award

Orionn Carmichael

Student Midwife

De Montfort University

Orionn is an outstanding student midwife at De Montfort University. She is always willing to help other students, not just within her own cohort and in other cohorts. She is one of the student representatives and she performs this role with enthusiasm and integrity. She has been a real advocate for other students and a reliable link between the students and the lecturers, aiding understanding and collaboration. As a student she works hard and responds well to feedback, taking on board constructive criticism and suggestions to enhance her work.  

Feedback from the women and families that she has cared for has been outstanding. For example, the following was received in a letter from a woman that she provided continuity of care for:   

“Throughout my pregnancy and birth Orionn has treated me with the upmost dignity and respect. She has been kind, caring, compassionate and has gone above and beyond her duties whilst remaining professional. She is clearly a natural care giver which was evident in her treatment of my baby and my Husband and I. Orionn will make an excellent midwife and is an asset to the NHS. Some people say they will, whereas others just do”. 

Orionn is a good listener and communicator and strives to provide skilled, individualised care.  In all aspects of her midwifery programme, both the theoretical and practice elements, she is committed to becoming the best midwife she can be.  



Midwifery Practice Leader Trailblazer Award

Emily Exell and Helen Latheron

Infant Feeding Midwives

University Hospitals of Leicester, NHS Trust

Emily and Helen have paved the way for utilising improvement methodology within maternity at ULHT. Having accessed support from the ULHT Improvement Academy on a coaching contract, they have approached the concerns surrounding non-latching infants in a methodical way.  

They have ensured the involvement of their stakeholders, including patients, midwives, maternity support workers and the neonatal teams, to ensure collaborative working and the inclusion of their knowledge and experience, and to help minimise resistance to change.  

During the improvement project, they have undertaken process mapping to identify the areas of concern, areas of variation and identify data measures to help monitor the situation. This led to them completing a service wide audit to further identify areas for development, and the findings have been widely shared with the maternity team. 

Their next steps are to involve staff in creative thinking for the potential solutions to some of the areas for improvement, and to trial those ideas via small test cycles called PDSA.  

Undertaking this project has helped to support a culture change from the historic reactive approach to change, to a methodical and meaningful approach to improvement.  

They have helped to provide opportunities for staff to upskill themselves in improvement methodology, and ultimately will lead to sustainable improvements for the birthing people and babies within our care.  



Midwifery Practice Leader Trailblazer Award

Janie Al Alawi


University Hospitals Birmingham NHSFT


An excellent midwife to the women she serves – a support to other midwives and an example of how women centred care can be achieved. She also helps me support over 12000 member of my Home Birth Group – giving her time and support freely to anyone who needs it – our group is richer for her care.    

She is tireless in her dedication to the women she serves in her role as an NHS Midwife and also as an independent midwife – she has helped me to support the over 12000 members of my home birth support group – if I need an honest and balanced opinion I can trust – I can turn to her. She does not provide advice but evidence that I can then pass on.     

It is becoming rarer and rarer to find an NHS midwife who can bridge the gap for home birthing women and being on a consultant led unit – but Janie navigates that path with skill and diplomacy. The divide is growing between those giving birth and midwives and services – those midwives who can breach it must be celebrated and recognised to show what can be achieved.    

Janie is an excellent example to mentored and new midwives of how we must centre women in their own care even when we disagree with their decisions.     

She is unfailing in her support of women and other midwives and also of doulas.      




Midwifery Leadership Trailblazer Award

Lin Ward

Associate Director of Midwifery

South Warwickshire NHS Trust


When you think of a leader you think of someone who inspires passion, motivates followers, someone with a vision and a path to achieving it. Someone who ensures their team has the support and tools to realising their goals. Linda Ward is all of these and more. Lin became our Head of Midwifery (/Associate Director of Midwifery) just over two years ago. With the support of the senior team, she has made a massive and positive impact to the care we provide to our families, our safe working culture and our dedicated teamwork ethos.  

 They say trends start from the top and filter down – and this is evident in her leadership style, one of her common phrases is ‘we need to look after our staff, so that they can look after our families’. It is clear Lin truly values every member of staff, midwives, cleaners, admin team, support workers, ward clerks, doctors and the MDT. Lin is one of our PMAs and is regularly known to contact staff on her days off, if she feels that they need support after a particularly difficult shift. Lin is not afraid to make difficult decisions but does so collaboratively and with the consequences in mind of who her actions will impact.  

Our Maternity Unit has undergone huge changes in the last two years, we have seen changes in the way our service is provided, increased specialist roles, refurbished all areas of maternity, the list is ongoing.  The overall aim is to improve the safety of our service for birthing women and babies, and one of the biggest improvements we have seen is our staffing establishment; recently we were at full quota with zero vacancies!    

We would like to thank Lin for constantly striving to make our Maternity Unit the best it can be.