Our trustees

Find out more about the Bliss Board of Trustees, a mixture of professionals and parents with personal experience.

About Bliss' board of Trustees

Bliss’ Board of Trustees has overall responsibility for ensuring we deliver our charitable mission and spend our money wisely. At Bliss we work hard to ensure that trustees take effective decisions and bring value to delivering Bliss’ vision that every baby born premature or sick in the UK has the best possible chance of survival and quality of life.

Bliss has 10 trustees from diverse backgrounds in the charity, public and private sector, appointed following an open recruitment process. All Bliss’ trustees are voluntary and some have personal or professional experience relating to premature and sick babies. Others bring a range of expertise including finance, governance, HR, policy, commissioning, digital and marketing. Trustees at Bliss serve a term of four years, and can serve a maximum of two terms.

In 2018/19 our trustee attendance rate at full board meetings was 80 per cent. The board collectively reviews its performance regularly, and devotes time every year to discuss and agree how it can improve its added value. A performance review of each trustee is also conducted annually by the Chair and Vice-Chair.

Adding value and bringing wider perspectives to our work

However, being a trustee at Bliss is about more than attending board meetings. Trustees add value in many different ways, helping to bring different perspectives and challenge as well as their professional expertise. We believe that trustees who engage directly with the staff, volunteers, beneficiaries and supporters of Bliss outside of board meetings will have a deeper understanding of our work, and will therefore be able to take more informed decisions and act as a more effective critical friend. We also believe that it is important to bring alternative voices into discussions from time to time.

Our expectation at Bliss is that our trustees will contribute to our work by:

  • Participating in board and committee meetings and Bliss events
  • Providing professional expertise and access to their networks
  • Supporting fundraising
  • Taking on a specific role or providing advice on a particular project
  • Meeting informally with staff across the organisation
  • Meeting those affected by our work, for example through attending fundraising or campaigning events and visiting neonatal units

The Board also regularly invites external speakers – practitioners, parents or subject experts – to meetings and asks for honest feedback, and compares Bliss’ performance against other similar charities.

Meet our trustees

Sarah Mullen - Chair of the board

Sarah has twenty five years of experience of working in the public sector, in both local government and central government.

She has held a number of senior roles leading strategy and policy development and managing change. These have included Director of Spending at HM Treasury and most recently, Assistant Chief Executive at the London Borough of Camden.

Verity Baldry

Verity works for privately-owned investment group Blenheim Chalcot, where she has developed deep experience of business development and product management working across public and private sector markets; most recently in technology start-up Fospha, where she led the organisation to develop an online behavioural analytics platform.

Verity has been a very active Bliss supporter since the death of her first son who was born 'too sick' in 2007.

John Calder

John is a Partner at Baringa Partners, winners of 2017 Great Place to Work. He has 15 years’ experience in operations consultancy focusing on operational excellence, KPIs and performance improvement, digital transformation and data and analytics. He has lead a number of people and culture initiatives, focused on attracting and retaining millennial talent.

He brings widespread third sector experience from projects at Fareshare, Gates Foundation and Save the Children and a wide network of private sector C-Suite executives. John and his family have been actively engaged with Bliss since the loss of their precious daughter Chloe, born prematurely in late 2016.

Alan Edwards

Alan has over 25 years' experience in business to business technology marketing. He has held a number of leadership positions and is currently Senior Vice President for global marketing at AVEVA, a UK headquartered global software business. Alan has developed particular experience in driving transformation and change through marketing.

Caroline Farrar

Caroline has more than 20 years' experience of working in public services, including in the independent sector, local government and the NHS. Currently working in commissioning at Merton Clinical Commissioning Group, she has also held senior roles in policy, performance and service development.

Helen Manley

Helen has worked in media for over 20 years, 10 years on the coalface and 10 years at board level running an independent production company, having originally qualified as a chartered accountant.

A keen fundraiser, she is passionate about Bliss’ ambition to reach every single baby born needing neonatal care in the UK and their family, having first come into contact with the charity when she had a premature baby herself who was sadly too sick and passed away in 2004.

Amy Overend

Originally trained as an Adult Nurse, and specialising in adult intensive care, Amy moved into Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing in 2013.

Completing post graduate training to become a specialised neonatal intensive care nurse, the care of sick and premature babies as well as their families has become her passion. Amy has worked closely with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Baby Loss and has helped with the creation of the National Bereavement Care Pathway for Pregnancy and Baby Loss, as well as speaking at a national conference about the nursing reality of neonatal organ donation.

Jason Parker

Jason is a Partner at KPMG, where he is the UK Head of Healthcare. He is an accountant by background and has over 20 years of experience working with NHS organisations on operational, financial and quality improvement issues. Jason has three children, one of whom was born premature.

Mala Shah-Coulon

Mala is a mum to seven year old twins who were born premature and sick after a placental abruption, but are now well and healthy.

Professionally she is an Associate Partner at Ernst and Young (EY) and runs the Corporate Governance team which seeks to provides boards with timely and practical advice on key governance and narrative reporting matters. She also sits on Confederation of British Industry's (CBI) Companies Committee.

Sarah Woolnough

Sarah sits on the Board of Cancer Research UK, as Executive Director of Policy and Information, with responsibility for the charity’s advocacy, press, information and patient engagement functions.

She has led several health and science policy campaigns, sits on a number of Government advisory groups and has spent time seconded to the Department of Health to work on the government’s cancer strategy. Sarah also has experience working in other government departments, voluntary sector organisations and for two Members of Parliament. Sarah is a trustee of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) and Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).