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Who We Are

PNI Team

In a bid to help mums who suffer from postnatal illness (PNI) in Hertfordshire, we established our charity in 2003.

The charity is run by mums for mums and their families.  We have experienced postnatal illness, postnatal depression, postpartum psychosis, maternal OCD amongst many other diagnoses and want to share our invaluable first-hand knowledge and offer support to those families currently living with PNI.

Postnatal Illness is known as ‘the silent epidemic’ and we are determined to break that silence in Hertfordshire.  No mum or dad should have to feel alone or without support and hope.

We are here to help, listen and reassure.


“We are exceptionally lucky that we have a team of committed volunteers who use their life experiences of postnatal illness to support mums and dads on their road to recovery.”



Charlotte Wilmer-Barbrook

As the co-founder and Chair of Hertfordshire Postnatal Illness Support I had the great fortune to meet Petra Leighton when we were both in Thumbswood Mother and Baby Unit in 1999. We shared a simple dream which was to ensure that mums in Hertfordshire who had postnatal illness never felt alone or scared during their recovery.

Over the last ten years Petra and I have run groups, established a dedicated charity for those with postnatal illness, created a telephone support network and email support for women from across the world and made many wonderful friends along the way.

I chose to set up the charity to help turn one of the most horrifying experiences of my life into something incredibly positive and for that I am forever grateful to each of our volunteers who help Hertfordshire Postnatal Illness Support grow.


Chief Executive
Petra Leighton

Petra Leighton

When my daughter Victoria was eight months old, I was admitted to the Mother and Baby Unit at the QEII Hospital in Welwyn Garden City, suffering from severe insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks and irrational thoughts. Just before I was discharged – after 5 months – Charlotte Wilmer-Barbrook arrived.

We realised that we only lived round the corner from each other and decided to stay in touch. When Charlotte eventually came back home, we felt that there was a serious lack of support in the community for women with postnatal depression. As a result, after a lot of hard work, the charity was born. For both of us this was a monumental achievement and a major landmark in our lives.

Working as the CEO and telephone support coordinator means a great deal to me. I am very passionate about sharing my experience in order to help other Mums get through this terrible suffocating illness. Not only have I got to know a lot of wonderful people, but I was also able to develop my own confidence and personal skills. Talking to Mums, Dads, health professionals and colleagues, going to meetings and taking part in different charity events has made me a stronger, happier and more confident person.

I will never forget the horrors of this crippling illness but I am glad that something so positive has emerged from it all.

“The quicker you get help, the quicker you will recover. So let us see how we can help you on your road to recovery!”

Don’t Delay – Email Us Today!


Event Organiser
Tara Chamberlain

Tara Chamberlain

I became a trustee and initially a group facilitator for Hertfordshire Postnatal Illness Support in 2011. I had attended the group after suffering with postnatal depression after having my son. The relief at finding a group where I could just be myself and not be judged was so important for my recovery.

The energy, enthusiasm and passion I have to help others I use to give talks across Watford about the charity and organise yearly fundraising events. I enjoy the fun side of fundraising, especially the Arsenal Charity Matches! I like coming up with new ways to raise money we need every year as it feeds my creativity.

I like to volunteer for the charity as I feel it is important to give back after suffering from the illness myself. If I can just let one person know about all the charity can do to help them, then that makes it all worthwhile!


Secretary & Trustee

Paula Walker

I am the newest member of the team I became a trustee in March 2016 and am very honoured to have been asked. I became aware of the charity in 2010 when my daughters was 6 months old, I called to ask for help and was greeted by a very calming person, Charlotte. I went to group and never looked back. I was supported 100% through my 2nd pregnancy and subsequent illness The warmth and caring nature of every one of the mums in the charity certainly helped me stay as strong and as positive as you can be. I knew that I needed to help this charity almost immediately to support families in such a caring way as they had with me.

I am passionate about raising awareness and providing talks to health visitors, Midwives, Children Centre staff, new mums anyone that may be affected in some way either personally or professionally, we are EXTREMELY lucky in Hertfordshire to have this charity and no new mum should ever have to suffer in silence

Paula Walker- Secretary & Trustee


Sian Bull

Sian Bull

I have been helping Hertfordshire Postnatal Illness Support for several years, since before our daughter was born in 2010.

Having seen first hand the devastating impact of post natal illness, I wanted to contribute what I could to help HPIS tackle the difficult issue of postnatal illness.

As a finance manager I am not qualified to directly support affected mums. However, I can offer the charity help in terms of dealing with its financial accountability and compliance with accounting and charitable law. It is vital for small charities of this nature to ensure that they operate within the relevant parameters to enable them to maximise their ability to realise their objectives – in this case helping to support mums who have found themselves facing difficulties they never could have anticipated.


Trustee & Events Organiser
Yvonne Adams

Yvonne Adams

Having qualified in 2002 & worked in various settings, such as bereavement, alcohol abuse & domestic violence, I kept recalling my desire to talk to someone who understood PNI following the birth of my son in 1994. Alas I was never fortunate enough to find anyone.

On looking through a family magazine I came across an article written by the Charity & immediately contacted Charlotte to offer any help I could give. I have been involved with the charity for 5 years now. Apart from being a trustee, I am a group facilitator in our community group, I train our telephone support mums & take an active part in our fundraising events.

As I know from personal experience, PNI is a terrible condition but it has brought together a fantastic group of women who I am honoured to work alongside.


Trustee & Events Organiser
Sally Tyers

Sally Tyers

After suffering with PNI after the birth of my son in 1998, I had felt incredibly isolated and lonely. I knew I couldn’t have been the only one to have suffered and desperately wished I’d had someone to talk to who could relate to me. After becoming ill again after my daughter was born in 2003 imagine my relief to see a poster at school offering support.

After using the charity to aid my recovery, I felt strongly that I wanted to give something back. I started by helping to run the group and in 2006/7 became a trustee. In 2011 we then set up a group to run at Thumbswood Mother & Baby Unit at the QE11 hospital in Welwyn, to try to ease the transition for the Mums as they came home.

I am involved in giving talks to various Ante-natal groups, Health Visitors, Midwifes etc., and in September I facilitated three workshops at the Scottish Perinatal Annual Conference to promote the Charity’s work. I can honestly say that the Charity was my life saver!


Charlie Storer

Charlie Storer

I first became involved with the charity in 2009 after the birth of my daughter Erin. I unfortunately became ill with postnatal illness & the charity was a Godsend to me during a very difficult time. Even on my recovery I would still attend the group sessions as it gave me stability & I met lots of other Mum’s at varying stages of their recovery.

It made me realise that the charity is an invaluable source of guidance & support to so many. Now that I feel fully recovered, I feel honoured to have been asked to become part of the ‘Dream Team’.

We are responsible for the organising of fundraising events for the charity but most importantly the raising of awareness of the plight of many mothers & the help that is out there for them.