Families are vital for all the charity does. By sharing their experiences and perspectives, our Parent Advisory Panel members help ensure the charity continually improves our information and support services, informing us about the issues affecting expectant and new parents, and those with children affected by group B Strep.
The Panel is made up of people with a wide range of group B Strep experiences and outcomes, but they all share a desire to use those experiences to shape and improve the charity’s work. They help ensure that families are at the heart of the charity’s work and decision making. Panel members help the charity with the development of information materials, training and education, and support services.
All Panel members have personal experience of group B Strep and have been selected for their expertise and passion for improving the parent-facing work of the charity.
Dr Kathryn Gutteridge SRN RM MSc PhD, Chair of the Parent Advisory Panel and GBSS Trustee
Kathryn Gutteridge is an experienced author and presenter on both the national and international circuit, specialising in emotional well-being during childbirth and women maintaining control over their choices.
“Being part of this charity is a really important part of my life, it means I am helping to raise awareness of the dangers to mothers and their babies. I have been a midwife for more than 35 years and was privileged to be elected as President of the Royal College of Midwives, I served until 2021. I am also a trained psychotherapist and I have practised clinically helping women with trauma, childbirth issues and early life problems.
I have loved being a midwife, it is all I ever wanted to be. I trained in the times when I had to be a nurse first and then go on to do my midwifery training. I have never been disappointed in my work as a midwife even though I have had to deal with difficult and sometimes heart-breaking situations. I have learnt so much from being with families during these times. Although I am now retired clinically, I am still working and teaching in university, helping to grow new midwives.
My life outside of midwifery is full, I have 2 grandsons who I have helped along their life course since my daughter died a few years ago. Losing an adult child is shocking and life-changing. As a parent, I can relate to many of our parents who are part of GBSS. Grief can be paralysing but having a direction and being a small part of this charity is helping me helping them. I hope we can reach out and share our knowledge of the dangers of GBS and finally see a future where babies are free of this disease.”
Debbie Forwood, GBSS Trustee
Debbie is a music industry professional, currently Head of Development at the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. She trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama as a saxophonist, and began her career as a performer and educator before moving into industry management where her career has also spanned live music production, grant-giving and operating musical holidays. In her spare time, she is an avid technical scuba diver and casual climber, as well as trying to keep on top of London’s arts scene.
“My daughter Ada died in 2019 while I was in labour with her, of complications arising from an ascending GBS infection. Her death broke me in ways that I had never imagined, but that many other families are sadly only too aware of. That grief that was my prison is now my rocket fuel, and I joined the GBSS Parent Advisory Panel to help fight for a future in which babies and their families need not suffer like ours.”
Mike lives in London with his wife Sophie, son Jimmy and daughter Rose. He has been a member of the Parent Advisory Panel since December 2020.
“I’m delighted to be a member of Group B Strep Support Parent Advisory Panel. I experienced the shocking impact group B Strep can have, both on a child and my wider family, when my son Jimmy was born with the condition and spent his first week in intensive care, extremely unwell. Thankfully Jimmy is a thriving and healthy 3-year-old now.
I hope my experience of group B Strep and my skillsets as a media professional help to raise awareness of the information available to parents as well as the work ongoing for how we can eradicate this awful infection.”
Louisa studied Fashion Marketing and now works for Cult Beauty as a Senior Buyer. Louisa is passionate about maternal healthcare & the NHS. She lives in Reading with her partner Liam and son Aerez. They lost their daughter August in labour in 2020.
“After losing August to an infection, we had never heard of, we were determined to make a change. We threw everything into fundraising for GBSS, spreading our experience. Our story was shared on the BBC news & in The Daily Mail. Liam wrote a song about loss that was featured on BBC 1xtra, &linked back to GBSS. We were determined to protect families from the pain we were experiencing..
Through the PAP I have connected with other families who have experienced similar circumstances, and we have worked together to support the charity. From speaking at a university lecture, to helping with Facebook campaigns & anything in between.“
Lucy works in venture capital and prior to that, she was a founding employee of a femtech business. Female and maternal healthcare is one of her greatest interests. Lucy holds a BA in French and Italian from the University of Bristol. In her free time, alongside spending time with her family, Lucy is also writing her first novel and is a trustee of CMV Action.
“I first contacted GBSS after my first daughter was diagnosed with suspected neonatal meningitis due to a group B Strep infection. I’d never heard of GBS before then. I subsequently leant on support from GBSS in preparation for the birth of my second daughter. I want to use my personal and professional experience to support GBSS as a member of the Parent Advisory Panel to raise awareness of group B Strep.”
Paola spent most of her career at Citigroup in London, in Corporate Equity Derivatives, where she looked after European, then Middle Eastern, clients. She is now in the digital asset space looking after investor relations and operations for a digital fund manager in the UAE, where she relocated in 2021. She holds a Master’s Degree in Quantitative Finance and Risk Management from Bocconi University in Milan and a Bachelor’s Degree from Dauphine in Paris. Paola loves horseriding, antiques, eating good food and above all raising her 3 boys.
“I am proud of being part of the GBSS Parent Advisory Panel and a member of the finance committee, trying to help as much as I can, spread awareness around this life-threatening infection to parents-to-be and health professionals. My first son was born with group B strep infection. No baby deserves to go through that, and no parents should live this when bringing a child to life.”
Lynsey is a mother of three children and a business owner. In 2014 her son Frankie was born and shortly after birth became seriously ill due to an unknown group B Strep infection that caused septicaemia.
“Devastatingly, after four days of continuous fighting, he passed away. As a family, we were and still are heartbroken by our loss. However, we wanted to continue his legacy by raising awareness and making sure other families did not suffer in the way we have.
I became involved with GBSS to raise vital funds and awareness of this amazing charity. I am proud to say over the past eight years we have raised over £60,000 in Frankie’s memory. The work that GBSS do is crucial to families like mine, and the progress they have made in recent years is huge, yet there is always more work to be done. Being a part of the Parent Advisory Panel is such a huge honour and I hope to continue supporting the charity in its fight for change.”
Jane Plumb MBE FRSA – Chief Executive and Trustee
Jane Plumb co-founded Group B Strep Support with her husband Robert in 1996 after their middle child died from group B Strep infection, and is the Chief Executive.
Jane is Vice-Chair of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ Women’s Network. Jane led the GBSS team in contributing to the WHO’s Defeat Meningitis by 2030 Road Map through participation at consultation meetings at Wilton Park in February 2019 and since. She chairs the Council for the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations and a trustee for the Meningitis Research Foundation. Jane was on the Scientific Committees for the International Symposium on Streptococcus Agalactiae Disease for 2018 and 2021, leading the Patient Voice Stream. Jane was a member of the Department of Health’s priority setting workshops for group B Strep research in 2015/6, and has sat on several National Institute of Health & Care Excellence guideline development committees. Jane has been and is a co-applicant on many group B Strep research projects, including the GBS3 trial, where she co-leads the Patient & Public Involvement work. Jane was awarded an MBE in 2012 for services to child health, Fellowship of the RSA in 2020 and Fellowship Honoris Causa of the Royal College & Obstetricians in 2021.
Jane says: “Group B Strep Support works to prevent as many of group B Strep infections in babies as possible by improving knowledge and awareness among health professionals and families; supporting families affected by group B Strep; campaigning to improve national policies and practices aimed at preventing and treating group B Strep infection in babies; and supporting research into better prevention and treatment.
I am passionate about families’ voices being the beating heart of the charity’s work. Our Parent Advisory Panel will be vital in ensuring the information and support we offer is best suited to families, and will help us ensure that we accurately represent their voice to others.”