It’s Sunday 14 January – exactly a month before Valentine’s Day – so I thought I’d tell you about some people I love – and who will definitely be getting a card from me.
I’m going to start with Tracey Sainsbury, senior fertility counsellor at the Lister Fertility Clinic who has recently written a ‘must read’ book called Making Friends with your Fertility, co-authored with Sarah Rayner best-selling writer of the novel The Two Week Wait. It’s a book that, frankly, everyone interested in the subject of fertility and infertility should read especially if you’re a patient (or prospective patient). If everybody got given a copy of Tracey’s book when they first went to their GP to say that they’re struggling to conceive, the world would be a better place. There would be more understanding about what you need to do to make a baby; what the path ahead might look like when the regular route gets rocky; and when to throw in the towel or go off piste. Tracey went through infertility diagnosis and treatment herself – unsuccessfully – and eventually became a mum through adoption. She’s one of the most knowledgeable women I know about this subject and will most certainly be getting a Valentine’s card from me for helping me make friends with my fertility!
As will Anya Sizer and Kate Brian who in the book of my life are two brilliant women. Both are IVF parents (and Anya, like Tracey, is an adoptive mum too). Both have written books about their experience (click on their names to see), and both have worked for the national charity Fertility Network UK (as has Tracey). Anya is currently the London representative for the charity. Kate, amongst many other things, is Women’s Voices Lead and Chair of the Women’s Network at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and also a board member of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority which regulates IVF treatment in the UK. All three women – Anya, Kate and Tracey – have been incredibly supportive of my work and I love and thank them for it.
Next up on my card list are four professors (interestingly I seem to spend a lot of my life with fertility professors these days). Allan Pacey – the God of Sperm. Joyce Harper – the Empress of Embryology. Geeta Nargund – one of the most successful IVF consultants in the UK who also has an unparalleled passion for fertility education and equality. And Jacky Boivin, the psychologist who knows more than anyone about how infertility affects the mind. They are all so much cleverer than me and I love them for it.
Also getting cards – and they’ll have to be arty ones – are Alice King Farlow and Natalie Highwood. Alice is Director of Learning at the National Theatre (a huge job in the arts) and Natalie most recently worked full-time at the Southbank Centre (another amazing creative organisation) before become an IVF mum and freelance arts consultant. Who can blame her with toddler twins?
Farrah Nazir and Lily Rose Davis from the Wellcome Trust are on my list too – because generous people who give you money to do things should always get cards.
And finally Jonathan Lighthill. Just simply a lovely man and representative of all IVF dads who have struggled with infertility. Because there are lots of them about but sometimes they do need a bit of encouragement to come out!
So that’s it. The list of twelve people that are on my Valentine’s card list this year. Together they form the Steering Committee of Fertility Fest and for the last year they have all given their valuable time and experience for free to support me and my Co-director Gabby Vautier to make it the best event it can possibly be. And you have to admit it reads as pretty cool company to be in doesn’t it. But then I can promise you, Fertility Fest 2018 is going to be pretty cool. The programme will be announced and tickets go on sale on Tuesday 6 February. Have you signed up to our mailing list yet?