Our story

The Human Milk Foundation is raising three pillars:

Supply   Support   Science

The HMF was conceived in 2017 by a group of parents, scientists, milk bank experts and doctors. The initial drivers came out of frustration at a lack of support for donor milk provision and countless stories of parents who wanted to access donor milk for their babies, who did not meet the criteria for donor milk use.

Scores of families where breastfeeding was impossible because of the mother facing illness, or being absent altogether, could not dream of accessing donor milk except in very rare circumstances. The vicious circle of disinvestment and consequent lack of research had to be broken.

The first step was to found the UK’s first independent, non-profit human milk bank, the Hearts Milk Bank , founded by Dr Natalie Shenker and Gillian Weaver. With the twin aims of providing equitable access to donor milk and initiating research, the HMB has rapidly grown to provide screened donor milk to hospital neonatal units across the southeast, London, East Anglia and beyond.

The HMB also provides milk to families in the community – over the first 3 years of operation we have sent over 2000 litres of milk that could not be used for hospitals has been used by over 100 families. No charge is made, and all milk was provided under the oversight of a healthcare professional. All babies have thrived, and in the cases where the donor milk was used to support the mother to establish her own supply, all the mothers successfully did! Many are still feeding their babies now. You can find out more about this work here.

Alongside the provision of milk, the milk bank team is enabling a raft of research, including ground-breaking work into the composition of human milk over the course of natural term lactation. This is only the start of a range of research projects, working with collaborators in the UK and further afield.

The three pillars of the HMF

Our aims

  1. To support parents to feed their babies with human milk
  2. To supply information, education and training across the fields of human milk
  3. To fund ground-breaking projects in human milk science

Board

Graeme Allinson

Chair of Trustees

Graeme worked for Barclays PLC for over 30 years covering a variety of roles in Risk, Wealth Management and more recently in Corporate Banking where he was the National Head of Manufacturing, Transport & Logistics and Chair of the Industry Strategy Board. He retired in 2019, and oversaw the merger of the Hearts Milk Bank CIC, where he was a founding Director, into the HMF. He is married with two grown-up children.

Tina Crombie

Trustee

Tina Crombie was elected Trustee of the HMF in February 2020. Tina is co-founder and director of TCR UK Solutions, implementing scalable systems and processes for life science companies. She has 25 years’ life science business experience and is an experienced charity trustee. Tina joins the HMF to help navigate challenges and opportunities in growing the organisation to contribute to delivery of the best possible support for families.

Dr Natalie Shenker

Trustee, Cofounder

Natalie is an Oxford-trained doctor and researcher, with interests in developmental biology and cancer risk. She cofounded the Hearts Milk Bank in 2016. In 2019 she was awarded a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship at Imperial College London.

Andy Hodge

Trustee, Treasurer

Andy Hodge FCA CTA was appointed Trustee and Treasurer of the HMF in February 2020. A Fellow of The Instititute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and a Chartered Tax Advisor, Andy spent his professional career with PwC, one of the largest professional services firms in the world. He retired from PwC in June 2018 after 37 years service. Andy specialised in international tax consulting in the pharmaceutical and health care sectors. He also advised clients in a range of other sectors including charities & non-profit making organisations.

Dr James Flanagan

Trustee

James is a Senior Lecturer at Imperial College London whose research focusses on epigenetics in breast and ovarian cancer risk. With over 20 years’ experience in academic research his role on the board of trustees is to support the research strategy of the HMF.

Kelly Kent

Trustee

With 10 years of fundraising experience, Kelly is now Head of Philanthropy at the Francis Crick Institute in London.

Team

Gillian Weaver

Honorary President

Gillian has worked in milk banking and dietetics for over 30 years. She acts as a consultant for NGOs and governments globally, and is past President of the European Milk Bank Association.

Flic Webster

Director of Communications

Flic has over 13 years' experience in digital marketing. With a psychology degree, and having previously worked in the NHS, Flic has a particular passion for campaigns that make a positive difference to people’s lives and is proud to be producing creative for the HMF to change conversations about human milk.

Jo Watt

Head of Support Services

Asmaa Shariff

Head of Projects and Events

Naomi Joffe

Head of Technical Services

Amanda Green

Milk Bank Coordinator

Eileen Cotterill

Milk Bank Technician

What could you do?

Find out more about volunteering with us!

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