2017 Breastfeeding Festival committee


The committee for the festival year 2017/2018 is as follows:

shel-banksSHEL BANKS , IBCLC (Breastfeeding Festival Chair and Treasurer)
Shel is passionate about facilitating informed choice in infant feeding, and has been supporting women to breastfeed since 2001 when her eldest child was born. A mother of three, Shel was initially a ‘community leader’ for a number of messageboards on a well-known website for women, and then a peer supporter with the Breastfeeding Network. Shel began paid work in infant feeding doing the communications for a community Baby Friendly project in 2008, then got a part-time NHS role working implementing Baby Friendly in a maternity unit in 2009, and qualified as an IBCLC in 2010. She has been chair of the Breastfeeding Festival since 2014, the year it moved to Manchester from Ulverston, and is also involved in the governing boards of the Lactation Consultants of Great Britain (website co-ordinator), LIFIB (chair) and the UK Association for Milk Banking (vice-chair). Shel sat on the guideline development group for a NICE guidance document on Faltering Growth, published in September 2017, and is an author on three Cochrane reviews on infantile colic, to be published in 2018, and is writing a book for the Pinter & Martin series Why It Matters. In addition to her NHS work and a small private practice in the north west of England as an Infant Feeding Specialist, she also trains Maternity Nurses for a London Agency, health professionals all over the country, and has trained a team of breastfeeding peer supporters in Barrow in South Cumbria. Shel sits on the pan-Lancashire Sudden Unexpected Death of a Child group, developing materials to promote the evidence base around safer sleep in families with infants and young children.


jo-dawsonJO DAWSON (Breastfeeding Festival founder member and Vice Chair)
Jo, one of the founder members of the Breastfeeding Festival in 2009, who has been a committee member since that time with a brief break for maternity leave, is an archeologist. Jo is a breastfeeding mother of two, and a breastfeeding peer supporter, having run the Ulverston breastfeeding group for the past five years. She has also attended Michel Odent and Liliana Lamar’s information sessions for doulas.


nikki-matherNIKKI MATHER (Breastfeeding Festival Membership Secretary)
Nikki Mather is a doula and breastfeeding counsellor in Cheshire and has three children from 10-22 years old. Nikki has supported breastfeeding families for over ten years in various paid and voluntary capacities. Involved in the Breastfeeding Festival from the first year it came to Manchester, Nikki has a keen interest in informed decision making, consent throughout maternity services and breastfeeding education during the antenatal period. Nikki also founded Greater Manchester Breastfeeding Support, a successful Facebook group which has Midwives, Health Visitors, Doulas, Breastfeeding Counsellors, IBCLCs and Peer Supporters and parents all working together for better infant feeding outcomes where families can find their local groups and support networks as well as a wealth of infant feeding information.


AMY HARDCASTLE (Breastfeeding Festival Stalls Co-ordinator and Joint Events Co-ordinator)
Amy is a queer, 26 year old mother of one. With a supportive husband, and through Facebook groups, she educated herself on the benefits of breastfeeding beyond infancy and her and her son continue to nurse beyond toddlerhood. Through facebook’s (often cheeky) algorithm, the bffest event was suggested to her and when she wasn’t able to attend she followed the page and consequently saw the appeal for new volunteers and couldn’t resist getting involved in something she felt so passionately about. She has a YouTube channel with videos about attachment parenting practices and vlogs of her life as a stay at home parent. She uses her background in performing arts to try and add something unique to the festival each year, like composing and performing a melodic rendition of some poetry from the book ‘Musings on Motherhood’. Amy has only attended the festival as a volunteer and feels privileged to work behind the scenes of such a inclusive and impressive event that many people are surprised to learn is organised via Skype!

amie-hartAMIE HART (Breastfeeding Festival Activities Co-ordinator and Joint Events Co-ordinator)
Amie is …

MARY TAYLOR (Breastfeeding Festival committee member)
Mary is new on the scene of parenting with her first child however she is passionate about science, evidence, and biology, being a biology teacher pre-parenting. Mary joined our committee in 2016 and is an able note taker and bringer of good ideas: we’re looking forward to working with her on this year’s festival!


hayley-shingHAYLEY SHING (Breastfeeding Festival committee member)
Hayley Shing has a background in design but became a mummy in 2015 and struggled with breastfeeding her son in the early months after a tricky tongue tie start. She soon became very passionate about “paying it forward” from her experiences and trained to become a mentored doula in 2017. Along with other commitments, Hayley volunteers for Doula UK and her local greenspace park group.  She joined this committee in 2017 bringing a speaker and enthusiasm to the festival team.