NCT appoints former Westway Trust director as new chief executive

14 Jan 2020 News

The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) has appointed Angela McConville as its new chief executive to take over from Nick Wilkie.

McConville has 15 years of experience in charity leadership roles, including as chief executive of the Westway Trust, a Kensington charity which was one those that provided support to that provided support for Grenfell victims in the immediate aftermath of the fire.

Last September, Wilkie announced he would step down at the end of the year to become a nearly-full-time parent to his three children, so that his wife could go back to work.

He had led NCT since 2015, when the decision to hire the charity’s first male director had raised eyebrows, given its focus on pregnancy and childbirth issues, including breastfeeding.  

From Grenfell to Greenwich

Before joining NCT, McConville had been chief executive of the Old Royal Naval College of Greenwich since 2017. She was the charity’s first female chief executive.

Between 2013 and 2017, she led the Westway Trust, which manages the land under the A40 flyover in North Kensington and works on a range of projects with the local community. 

During her directorship, the trust presented a much-discussed development plan for Portobello Market and provided support and funding to the Grenfell fire relief efforts. She later told Business Insider that in the council and government “there was a devastating vacuum of leadership” that lasted “for days” after the fire, and that the voluntary sector had stepped up instead.

She is also a trustee of the London Transport Museum. 

McConville said: “As a proud mum of two young children, I’m really excited by the prospect of leading a truly brilliant charity that positively impacts so many parents throughout the first 1,000 days.

“NCT’s distinct ability to share knowledge, build communities, empower parents and campaign for social change resonates with me deeply.

“I’m looking forward to extending the reach of our work to even more communities, and to supporting many more families to build valuable knowledge and networks every year.”

Jessica Figueras, chair of NCT, said: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome Angela to NCT. She is a seasoned third sector leader, and the board was very impressed by her deep expertise in community building, her commercial experience, and her genuine enthusiasm for NCT’s work. 

“Our mission to support all parents across the first 1,000 days has never been more relevant, and we are excited about the next step in our journey.”

NCT’s difficulties

The NCT has recently faced some challenges, including the resignation of its president in April 2019, who accused the charity of moving away from its original mission.

Former NCT president Seana Talbot quit last April, accusing the executive team of “taking the charity away” from “its core mission of birth and breastfeeding, towards more generic ‘parent support’ with an emphasis on mental health.” 

She also mentioned a “culture of fear” within the charity and said that dissent was being “shut down”.

The NCT responded saying that infant feeding is a “priority” for the charity, which is “also committed to championing other issues that are important for parents including maternity care and mental health.” 
It also said that an internal investigation carried out in 2018 had concluded that there was “no culture of bullying within the charity”.

Since 2016, the charity’s income has gone down from £17.3m to £15.6m, a 10 per cent drop. It currently has 158 employees and over 5,500 volunteers.

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