Turning the Page

Celebrating the end of an era. #MatExp

This week, I had a wonderful opportunity. I must write a story about it before other things take over. A lot is going on in my life at the moment. I've had the privilege to befriend a feisty, fantastic community that is the Royal College of Midwives. They claim to have the best job of all: welcoming babies into the world. I believe them. Lesley Page has been the President of the Royal College of Midwives for the last five years. She has been extraordinary. We were getting together to support her in her prestigious Zepherina lecture, handing the baton (pinnard!) to the new president Kathryn Gutteridge.

I have fond memories of the first time I met Lesley a couple of years ago. This was a page from a Steller story I wrote at the time (2015).

Lesley is open to innovative ideas. She seemed to 'get' Whose Shoes from the beginning - the power of walking in other people's shoes, seeing different perspectives and working together to address the challenges.

I had originally planned a leisurely day in Oxford, meeting up with #MatExp friends and putting the world to rights.

But Mum is not well, so I wondered if I would be able to make it at all. I helped Mum choose a book. Choice and control is central to #MatExp ...and to human beings throughout life.

My train was held up on the way. I had the most entertaining view: it looked as though they were trying to build a new road to rescue us!

Meanwhile James Sanderson, Director of Personalisation and Choice at NHS England tweeted that he was stuck on a train with a very uninspiring view...

So I did some virtual graffiti for him πŸ‘πŸΌ

It was about 25 mins walk from Oxford station. I was really keen to walk although I was running late – I needed to clear my head.

This made me smile! πŸ‹ But I didn't have time to go in. πŸ‹

Start the adventure! #MatExp is full of adventures. I was feeling excited. πŸ˜€

I was sorry my friend Sheena Byrom could not join us. She is a wonderful midwife and a great friend of Lesley Page. I thought I saw her name, but they had misspelt it.

Sheena kindly invited me to contribute to a celebratory film about Lesley's presidency, collecting video comments from friends across the world who've been inspired by her work.

We've just heard that #MatExp is going to be main stage at NHS Expo 2017 (how very exciting‼️). I'm always looking out for ideas - but I hurried on across Oxford!

What a lovely idea! This is my contribution. You can watch the whole film here: https://youtu.be/vKV96T5w144

I was tempted to grab a bike – there were plenty lying around.

It was a pleasant walk. I always love to see houses in different colours - it reminds me of my Whose Shoes concept - looking at issues from different perspectives. And adding a bit of fun. πŸ‹

St. Catherine's College - I was nearly there.

Someone was arriving in a stylish purple taxi

When I arrived, I was amazed to see so many people I knew. It was like a gathering of friends. Cathy Warwick, retiring CEO of the RCM, opened the event paying tribute to Lesley Page and the wonderful leadership she has shown over her five years as president.

Lesley's talk was a wonderful insight into the world of midwives and midwifery and the values they hold dear and which she herself embodies.

As president, Lesley has travelled across the world. I knew this from following her on Twitter and also knew the high regard in which she is held globally by midwives, women and families alike.

Almost at the beginning of her talk, Lesley mentioned the importance of walking in the shoes of others!

Lesley managed to weave in references to the work of lots of people in the room during the lecture, which was a really nice touch and much appreciated by the audience.

The love poured in both directions and this felt very uplifting - especially in the context of the divisions and hatred that fill the media in this election week.

I am proud that Whose Shoes is now being used in Uganda, an idea first conceived by Rosie Townsend...

And now being pursued by Alice Ladur. Alice is using the Whose Shoes board game as part of her PhD, to open up conversations with men in Uganda, exploring their role and how they can help reduce mortality rates.

Lesley spoke about the challenges of the modern world. How isolating and frightening it can be for displaced women giving birth.

Lesley spoke about over-medicalisation of birth. These debates, and helping people work together to find the best solutions, are central to our #MatExp Whose Shoes work.

I thought of #FabObs Flo @FWmaternitykhft and how her #lithotomychallenge is helping people understand what women experience and how it can be improved.

And changing midwifery practices across the decades. My 95 year old Mum has never forgotten being made to take castor oil - which, as she predicted, immediately made her sick - as an 'intervention' when she had her first baby in 1953!

Our #MatExp mantra! So true!

It was interesting to hear about Zepherina Veitch - we owe so much to these pioneering women who have gone before us.

The oxytocin was flowing. It was clear how all the passionate midwives in the room were carrying on this pioneering legacy to give every mother and baby the best start.

Lesley had lots of anecdotes. I loved the way that, as she was speaking, her phone was pinging as all the Twitter notifications came through! Another anecdote was born. πŸ‘ΆπŸΌ

Collaboration is key! Join the fabulous #MatExp community and you will find that the links you need are really easy to make - particularly with women and families who are keen to be heard and to help implement positive change!

I can't do justice to Lesley's fabulous lecture. This story is more about capturing the spirit of the day - so I was thrilled when Anna @acbmidwife posted this video where Lesley summarises her key messages: You can view it by signing up to free #SundaySummaries updates @ByromandByrom. http://www.byromandbyrom.com

There was a massive standing ovation. My camera jerks as I stand up too and try to clap at the same time! πŸ˜‚ πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½

And then it was time for the handover. Congratulations to new president of the Royal College of Midwives: Kathryn Gutteridge! Brilliant to see you are on Twitter: β€ͺ@Sanctummid‬. We hope you will engage with and use the inclusive #MatExp hashtag too!

Very exciting to be there at the beginning of what I'm sure will be a new RCM tradition – passing the pinnard round to everyone in the audience before it goes to the new president. Inclusive indeed! Great idea, Lesley! πŸ’œ And of course symbolic of true listening. #MatExp

Kathryn spoke movingly about how she felt about becoming president – and threw out the challenge to student midwives in the room that one day it could be them! Believe! πŸ’œ One of Kathryn's first jobs was to welcome three new Fellows of the RCM – I knew two of them as friends and members of the #MatExp community.

Well done Jenny Hall (in the video on the previous page) and equally fab Tracey Cooper. Enjoying working with you both in #MatExp #WhoseShoes - looking forward to our long awaited workshop with Tracey in Warrington on 4th July!

As the event came to a close, a throng gathered around Lesley and Kathryn – everyone was celebrating!

A shoutout for fab Carmen the photographer! πŸ‘πŸΌ

And a wonderful little gift for me from my good friend Jenny @JennytheM: a cutout figure personalised with lots of hashtags that I seem to manage to fuel. And some very handy clips, including 'OMG' & 'Just do it!!' πŸ˜‚ #JFDI

I gave Jenny a full set of all the #MatExp badges - and she pinned #matexpontour to her bag πŸ’Ό !

A special moment! The meeting of the Jennys!!

And a very special moment – catching up with Lesley. Indeed, I was privileged to be invited to rock on to the pub with them! πŸ˜‰

We had a lovely sociable evening. You can tell it is Oxford – where else do you have a pub with walls lined with books? πŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“š

Lovely to spend some proper time with Jenny – she is such a fabulous person and a shining example to all midwives. And she knows the lemons story. πŸ‹ https://steller.co/s/5BudJkGD2cN

Bravissimo, Lesley Page!

We are all very proud to know you and to have shared your special day

I love Oxford. πŸ’œ It is quirky. #MatExp #WhoseShoes is quirky. πŸ‹

I thought I would leave my mark. πŸ˜‰

It had been raining. The sun had come out. How fitting!

Can you spot who this is on the way back to the station? πŸ˜‰

I hope this gives a flavour of the day. I look forward to working with many of you as we continue to make progress to improve maternity care. We have just heard that 'we' are main stage at NHS Expo, Sept – bring it on! Gill @WhoseShoes nutshellcomms.co.uk P.S. And if I stop going to some of these fabulous dos, I would have time to update my website! πŸ˜‚