The Hearts Milk Bank was co-founded by Dr Natalie Shenker and Gillian Weaver.

gillianGillian Weaver managed the milk bank at Queen Charlotte and Chelsea Hospital for over 25 years before leaving to work as a consultant, establishing milk bank services around the world. She now works as an advisor to health ministries internationally. She was a co-founder of the UK Association of Milk Banking (UKAMB), and a former president of the European Milk Banking Association (EMBA). Gillian is committed to ensuring the equity of access to donor milk in hospitals and communities across the UK and worldwide.

Dr Natalie Shenker qualified as a doctor from Oxford University and initially trained as a surgeon with a specialist interest in paediatrics. After an MSc in Developmental Biology, she did a PhD in epigenetics and breast cancer risk, which led to a successful collaboration with the milk bank formerly managed by Gillian. Natalie is now passionate about establishing a wide range of ethically-funded research into the optimal uses of milk banking and how breastfeeding affects the health of both mothers and babies.


The Hearts Milk Bank is also proud to be supported by a host of professionals from different backgrounds through our non-executive board, chaired by Graeme Allinson.

graemeGraeme has worked for Barclays PLC for over 30 years covering a variety of roles in Risk, Wealth Management and more recently in Corporate Banking where he was the National Head of Manufacturing, Transport & Logistics and Chair of the Industry Strategy Board. His current role is Head of Client Satisfaction for Corporate Banking with a mandate to drive a dramatic improvement in client satisfaction and complaints across all 900,000 clients. Graeme is a member of the UK Corporate Banking Management Committee, the Corporate Council, the People Council  and the Corporate Banking Change Board. He is married with two grown-up children.


Expert Advisors

The Hearts Milk Bank team is supported in our day-to-day by a team of clinical and specialist advisors:

Microbiology and Donor Screening

Dr Jim Gray has been a Consultant Microbiologist at Birmingham Children’s and Women’s Hospitals in England since 1995. Since then he has maintained research and clinical interests in the prevention and management of obstetric and neonatal infections. Jim has worked on several programmes with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE); he is currently a standing member of a Rapid Clinical Guideline Updates Committee and the Diagnostic Assessment Panel, but his introduction to working with NICE was as a member of the Donor milk banks: service operation Guideline Development Group. Jim is Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Hospital Infection (the official journal of the Healthcare Infection Society) and has editorial responsibilities with a number of other academic journals.


Social Enterprise and Governance

Mark Goodson has been a business advisor with Cambridge Social Ventures (part of the University of Cambridge) since its inception in 2014. During that time, he has worked with over 100 social ventures, supporting their growth and helping them make a positive impact in the world. Prior to this he spent over 30 years in technology, co-founding venture capital funded start-ups, taking on senior positions at companies such as Cambridge Silicon Radio and acting as a consultant to technology companies. He has founded a number of ventures, both commercial and social, and is also a post-graduate qualified coach and mentor.


Wendy Jones was a community pharmacist and also worked in GP surgeries supporting cost effective, evidence-based prescribing. She qualified as a pharmacist prescriber. Wendy left work in 2011 to work on writing her book Breastfeeding and Medication (Routledge 2013), developing information and training material on drugs in breast milk.  She also recently published Breastfeeding for Dads and Grandmas (Praeclarus Press) and Why Mothers Medication Matters (Pinter and Martin). Wendy runs a helpline service on the use of medication in breastfeeding mothers for a UK charity, responding to healthcare professionals and mothers.  She has been a breastfeeding supporter for 30 years. Wendy is passionate that breastfeeding should be valued by all and that medication should not be a barrier. The importance of breast milk for vulnerable preterm infants whose mothers are unable to breastfeed, for a variety of reasons, is an extension of this. Wendy has three daughters, all breastfed and as passionate about breastfeeding as her, and three grandchildren who seem just as keen!


Dr Merran Thomson – biography pending