- Nicola WelshChief ExecutiveNicola WelshChief Executive
Having experienced the loss of my middle son when just 3 weeks old, I understand first hand the heartbreak and devastation felt when a much loved and wanted baby dies. I wasn't made aware of Held In Our Hearts when Theo died and it wasn't until 2009 after the birth of my third son that I got in contact. I wanted to make sure families received the best care and established a working group at St Johns and a trained as a befriender. My involvement grew from there and in December 2014 I left teaching to become the Chief Executive. I am extremely passionate about providing the best bereavement support to families at the worst of times. Everything we do is about providing bespoke support via monthly meetings, counselling and befriending which makes our charity one of a kind. It is person centred and we are guided by the families. I am on various working groups within NHS Lothian and Scottish Government making sure the parents voice is always heard. I feel very privileged to meet with families and hear about their precious and much loved baby and it is an honour to run such a long standing community charity.
- Tracy WattCommunity Fundraising ManagerTracy WattCommunity Fundraising Manager
After raising awareness by volunteering and running for Held In Our Hearts and meeting so many parents it felt like a natural step. As a long ago bereaved parent I am well aware that parents did not always talk about their baby or it was a taboo subject for a long time. This being my experience for many years, I became aware that when I discovered Held In Our Hearts for myself, many of those feeling of loss and despair and loneliness had been supressed. When I started to talk about Lewis it was such a pleasure to keep his legacy alive and share him with so many. He is now no longer a dim and distant memory. I want to help parents realise that to talk about their journey as a bereaved parent is completely normal and not something to be ashamed of.
- Heather TaylorPrincipal Peer SupporterHeather TaylorPrincipal Peer Supporter
My precious daughter Eilidh was stillborn 21 years ago and Held In Our Hearts was a huge help to me. A couple of years ago, I had to give up work due to health problems, and now that I have free time on my hands (2 children at school and 2 at Uni), I want to give something back to the charity that helped me and took on the role of Principal Peer Supporter in 2019. I want to help other bereaved parents and show them there can be light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
- Jeni WintonCounsellorJeni WintonCounsellor
Since 1989 I have been part of a team offering support to families in the Lothians who experience the death of a baby. My background is in Nursing but in 2007 I decided to train as a counsellor. I completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling at Edinburgh University in 2011 and have been working as a counsellor for SANDS Lothians since then. I am a member of COSCA (Counselling and Psychotherapy in Scotland) and on the COSCA Register of Counsellors and Psychotherapists - Accredited by the Professional Standards Authority. I work by their Statement of Ethics, Code of Practice and Complaints Procedure.
Over the years I have witnessed the value of talking about a baby that has died and the strength bereaved parents find to rebuild their lives after this devastating experience. I feel it is a great privilege to hear about their baby, share their experience and be a small part of their journey to find a way forward. As a counsellor I can offer a further layer of support when other issues arise or resurface following the death of a baby and navigating through the grief becomes more difficult.
Counselling may be helpful fairly soon after the death of a baby or at any time thereafter and we aim to offer this support for as long as it is needed. I usually offer an initial meeting to discuss counselling and to help parents decide whether it feels right for them. I see parents individually or as a couple.
To find out more about counselling in Edinburgh please email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ailsa MeldrumCounsellorAilsa MeldrumCounsellor
In 2012 after a career break from working in Social Work and Education I started my journey to become a counsellor. All through my training I always knew I wanted to support bereaved parents.
I qualified in 2016 and I am a registered member of the BACP (British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists) and abide by their code of ethics.
I have been a Counsellor at Held in our Hearts for 3 years and it is a privilege to support bereaved parents in their darkest times and hear about their precious babies.
I am passionate about counselling and providing a safe space for bereaved parents to talk openly about the trauma of their loss. I believe that with counselling parents can begin to navigate their grief and loss and begin the process of healing – not moving on but moving forward with the love for their precious baby.
Grief often can come in waves and we are here to support parents whether it is soon after a loss or the grief has become more complicated over time.
The charity is committed to providing bespoke, compassionate counselling and support us to attend conferences and training courses on baby loss, grief and trauma, ensuring that the voices of the bereaved parent is at the heart of everything we do.
- Gemma BradyPeer Supporter and Volunteer CoordinatorGemma BradyPeer Supporter and Volunteer Coordinator
I’m a mum to three girls, my firstborn Tilly was born with a diaphragmatic hernia and died of an infection at twenty five days old.
Losing a child for me was a such a lonely place to be, everyone’s life was able to move on but mine couldn’t and all I wanted was to talk about Tilly, she wasn’t my guilty secret she was my daughter and I was her mummy.
I met the lovely Nicola at Held in our hearts six months after my loss by chance and had a peer support session - to hear another bereaved parent tell me they had felt what I felt made my feelings normal in my head, and we kept in contact over the years.
When I later took voluntary redundancy, I was approached by Nicola to come onboard, the timing was right for us both, so here I am.
Listening to parents talk about their babies with such love is one of the most special parts of my work, pure and raw but love at its best.
I am a Peer Supporter as well as doing a volunteer co-ordinator role.
- Elaine TritschlerCounsellorElaine TritschlerCounsellor
My challenges in becoming a parent led me into a career in Counselling.
I qualified in 2016 and I am a registered member of BACP (British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists and BICA (British Infertility Counselling Association) and adhere to the ethical guidelines to ensure safe and contained counselling practice. I have worked as a counsellor in general practice, for mental health charities and in private independent practice. I currently work as part of the Counselling Service for Glasgow Centre for Reproductive Medicine (EdinburghSatellite Clinic) and Monklands Infertility Unit.
As a counsellor, I believe the therapeutic relationship is the most important intervention in counselling. Counselling offers exploration of new ways to live with the pain of loss while still having hope for the future.
I aim to offer a warm, compassionate and healing space for parents to talk about their much-loved baby so they can integrate their loss into their lives and explore ways of mourning and honouring their baby. It is a privilege to care and provide a safe space for families in one of the darkest human experiences.
I am very proud to be a part of Held in our Hearts and in my first week I have felt the empathy, connection and love from the team which is central to the ethos of the charity.
- Vikki AndersonPeer SupporterVikki AndersonPeer Supporter
My name is Vikki and I first got in touch with Held In Our Hearts about five and a half years ago.
Two days before our wedding day we were told the words during a routine scan that no expectant mother wants to hear, "I'm so sorry". Our baby girl, Angelica, had a condition called anencephaly which, unfortunately, is incompatible with life. One week after hearing those words, our little girl was born.
I had no idea just how difficult the next steps in my journey were going to be, but due to go back to work in the coming weeks, working on the same maternity ward I delivered Angelica on, I needed to talk to someone who understood. And Held In Our Hearts came into my life.
I got in touch with the charity and was supported by the wonderful Nicola. The compassion and empathy she had was a massive part of helping me on my journey.
Since that moment, I always knew I wanted to give back to this amazing charity. December of 2020 was when I got back in touch to see what I could do to help. I started peer supporting in 2021 and became part of the team in June. It really is the most amazing work this charity provides and I feel so privileged to be a part of it.
- Katy SkipworthPeer SupporterKaty SkipworthPeer Supporter
Held In Our Hearts has been an incredible support to me and my family ever since our baby son, Alex, died aged 3 weeks in February 2018 due to a severe congenital heart defect. When we returned home from the hospital without Alex we felt like we were the only people in the world that this had ever happened to, which was terrifying and isolating, despite the well-meaning messages and support from family and friends. We were lucky to be put in contact with Held In Our Hearts within a few days by our Health Visitor and I remember the first phone call with Nicola as a beam of light into our blackened world, to talk to someone who had been in the same position and who knew exactly how we were feeling was incredible as we felt so alone and hopeless in our grief.
Over the turbulent years since Alex died I regularly met with my peer supporter who showed incredible understanding of my grief for Alex and also for my several early miscarriages. I was also supported through my subsequent pandemic pregnancy by the wonderful pregnancy after loss group.
I have trained to join the Peer Support team as I would like to offer the support and understanding that was shown to me to other bereaved families, to let them know that no one should have to feel alone in their grief following the loss of a beloved baby.
- Jackie RobsonCorporate Fundraising ManagerJackie RobsonCorporate Fundraising Manager
I have not suffered the devastating loss of a baby, however throughout my time as a student midwife and as a mum to a daughter with a life threatening heart condition I have walked hand in hand with women and their families who have experienced this unimaginable loss. In 2019 our daughter underwent her second Open Heart Surgery and we welcomed our fourth child. I reassessed my life and decided to make a massive career change. I moved into the charity sector and began my role as a fundraiser. When the first opportunity arose to join the wonderful and inspirational team at Held in Our Hearts I grabbed it with both hands. I am inspired and driven to raise as much funds as possible to allow the team to offer bereavement support to all families sadly in need of our help.
- Susan BraniganOffice ManagerSusan BraniganOffice Manager
I had always been aware of Held In Our Hearts, and particularly so since the loss of my baby daughter in 2009. At the time, we were lucky to have received incredible support from the hospital teams and community midwives and so somehow I didn’t have the nerve to get in touch with Held In Our Hearts.
However, it seemed we were meant to meet.
In summer 2021 I was looking for a job, but not just any job. One day, the Office Manager advert literally appeared on my computer screen. That in itself was cause for a second glance. And then it seemed to tick so many boxes. But the main one was that this was a cause not just close to my heart, but part of my very existence. If I could join in something that could bring hope for the future to families suffering indescribable loss, then that would be way more than a job.
And so here I am, looking after the office and working with an incredibly wonderful group of humans. I do get calls from time to time, and I cherish every opportunity to lend a listening ear, and heartfelt support. I’m so glad to use my experience to try and help someone else, and each time it feels like I’m adding to our precious daughter’s story, and her place in our lives.
- Jen KeppieCounsellorJen KeppieCounsellor
I came to counselling from a background in nursing, having had my curiosity sparked by a listening workshop that introduced me for the first time to the powerful effect of being really heard and understood. Ultimately I made the leap to retrain and went on to gain my postgraduate diploma in Person-Centred Counselling from Persona/University of Aberdeen.
I am passionate about the Person-Centred approach in my work – it is hugely important for me to understand what each person’s experience of loss means to them from their own individual point of view. I see counselling as a unique kind of relationship – one which offers a safe place for bereaved families, a place they can feel understood and accepted, where they can have the chance to express any of the feelings they might be having without judgement. It is often also a place for families to be able to remember and talk about the cherished baby they have lost. Ultimately, through counselling I hope to support families in finding a way forward following their devastating loss, in a way that feels uniquely meaningful for them.
- Jenni MorrisHospital to Home WorkerJenni MorrisHospital to Home Worker
I was an Early Years Practitioner, working as a childminder when our sons died in pregnancy in 2011 and 2012. At the time, we were lucky to receive support from some wonderful charities including Held In Our Hearts and we were able to grieve our babies and find our way forward with new meaning. There was still some way to go in breaking the taboo around baby loss at that time and I made it my mission to talk about my boys Theo and Jay, and support others through their losses. A part of my personal journey was to re-train as a counsellor, and in 2019 I qualified and began working in a school. I loved this role and especially working with bereavement, I knew how important good support was. I decided to leave my post in search of something meaningful, I wanted to work in bereavement services and support families like my own. When I saw the post for Hospital to Home Worker, I had a lump in my throat. This was something I so desperately needed when my sons died and yet it seemed like a pipe dream. I am so honoured to have been given the opportunity to work with Held In Our Hearts in this new role and support families through their early stages of grief.
- Lindsay DonaldsonPeer Support and Hospital Liaison - HighlandsLindsay DonaldsonPeer Support and Hospital Liaison - Highlands
Nothing could have prepared me for losing my son, Hunter, in July 2013. I lost him quite suddenly 18 weeks into my first pregnancy. I had never experienced grief like it and felt so alone. When my husband found Held In Our Hearts it was amazing to finally feel safe and understood.
Unfortunately, on Mother's Day 2015, at 22 weeks pregnant I lost our daughter, Esmae. Once again the charity supported us in ways others could not.
We remained hopeful, but in October 2015, a scan showed our daughter, Freya, had anencephaly, a condition incompatible with life and we had to make the heart-breaking decision to terminate. Whilst grief and loss were familiar, experiencing a TFMR was new territory, but Held In Our Hearts understood and thankfully had already been supporting us throughout the pregnancy.
The following year, after a second early loss, I became pregnant for the sixth time and in April 2017, after a lot of amazing care, including counselling sessions and support from Held In Our Hearts, I gave birth to Iris...and we brought her home.
After having Iris I decided not go back to my job as a Media Sales Manager for a national newspaper publisher and became a stay at home mum. It was so lovely to have the chance to spend precious time with her before she started school. In 2021 my wee family moved from Edinburgh back to my hometown of Inverness and I jumped at the chance to be part of Held In Our Hearts’ expansion to the Highlands. I did my peer supporter training and it just felt right.
It's such a privilege to be a Peer Supporter here in the Highlands. I know the difference it can make to speak someone who understands the heartache of losing a precious baby. I hope I can help ease the feelings of loneliness and isolation.
- Christy MulvaneyHospital to Home WorkerChristy MulvaneyHospital to Home Worker
I came to Held In Our Hearts from supporting families and young people who have experienced bereavement and loss. I found this extremely rewarding and working at Held In Our Hearts has enabled me to support families going through extremely difficult loss.
My background is in Psychotherapy and have worked for a number of voluntary projects supporting parents, children and young people. I have found it a privilege being able to meet and support families and being able to be part of their journey.
I feel very privileged working at Held In Our Hearts, being able to give families a voice, feel supported and listened to, ensuring that no family or parent feels isolated or alone.