Meet The Team
Dr Ela Chakkarapani
Dr Ela Chakkarapani is a consultant neonatologist at St Michael’s Hospital, Bristol, and a senior lecturer in neonatal neuroscience at the University of Bristol.
He has been undertaking research in the field of Hypoxic-Ischaemic Encephalopathy (HIE) since 2006. He has been involved in developing interventions to reduce brain injury following HIE, understanding brain development following cooling for HIE, and developing interventions that will improve parent-infant bonding in families with babies who were cooled for HIE.
He looks after families and children who had HIE in his clinic and is looking forward to contributing to the Peeps’ community as a Trustee.
Hi, I’m Hannah and I’m a solicitor in Special Educational Needs and Disability law, acting for families in securing the correct special educational, health and social care provision to meet the needs of children and young people with SEND. I have both personal and professional experience with the SEN tribunal and statutory process and enjoy working closely with parents, case workers and young people to secure the best outcomes for families.
I am a mother of three children, my eldest son having been born 8 weeks premature due to his complex medical needs, we were introduced to the world of Neonatal Intensive Care even before he had arrived!O ur son has a number of SEN and disabilities diagnosed arising from his pre-birth and antenatal health difficulties and received his first EHCP when he was 4. We have encountered deceleration within mainstream, transition from mainstream to specialist and between specialist settings since then and this has given me a unique understanding of the demands of traversing the SEN system as a parent as well as my professional expertise.
A few years after my son was born my closest friend delivered her son (my godson). He experienced a severe HIE event at birth and they were suddenly tipped into the world of NICU as he underwent the cooling procedure. I was back in NICU supporting my friends in the aftermath of what had promised to be an entirely normal delivery. Subsequently we all began a new journey with my godson in learning about HIE and the impact of this has been complex, long- lasting and inspiring. In many ways similar to the experiences that we had already been through with our own miracle babe and I am so proud to have been involved in fighting for both these wonderful special boys.
As a result of my own experiences, I feel passionate about ensuring early support for families with children who have been neurologically compromised and I am really excited to work with Peeps to develop their offering.
Hi, I’m Liz and I am very excited to be joining the Peeps’ Team as Charity Co-ordinator.
I was a secondary school teacher for 12 years including the roles of Head of Department and Head of Year, before leaving to become full time mum / carer to my beautiful daughter Neve.
Neve was born in 2012 and was quickly diagnosed with several serious neurological, physical and developmental conditions including Microcephaly, West Syndrome (which later developed into Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome), stage 5 cerebral palsy, GDD & hypotonia.
My journey with Neve has brought us into contact with some amazing children, families and organisations – including Peeps!
I also have an incredible son who has brought a wonderful and new dynamic to our family, but has also allowed me to understand better the challenges faced by the siblings of SEND children and just how heroic they are in their own right.
I am really looking forward to being able to put all my professional and personal experience into supporting and growing the Peeps’ vision and passion for helping children with HIE and their families. As well as working closely with NICU staff and other key professionals in the NHS and care sector.
Hi, I’m Michelle. I’m based in Merseyside and I ricocheted into the world of HIE in
October 2011 when my beautiful daughter was born after a catastrophic birth. She was my first child and she literally threw the lives of both me and my husband upside down. She was diagnosed as HIE grade 3 and three hours after birth she was transferred to the Liverpool Women’s Hospital without me.
I was on maternity leave from my job in the civil service as a driving examiner (please don’t hate me I was a nice one!!), a job I fully intended to return to. As time went on it transpired that Jessica needed far more care than I could ever imagine and as I was diagnosed with PTSD after her birth my job was no longer viable.
Fast forward nearly 10 years and I’m an incredibly proud Mum of an amazing little girl who attends mainstream education albeit with a lot of support.
As I’m now so much stronger (but as with everyone I still have bad days) I now want to help other families just like mine. I have followed Peeps since it was founded and I’m amazed to be part of this fabulous team.
Co-Founder & Charity Manager
Sarah is the Co-Founder and Charity Manager at Peeps, and mum to Heidi.
Along with her husband Steve (and thanks to the support of friends and family) she set up the charity to support others affected by HIE (Hypoxic-Ischaemic Encephalopathy). The name “Peeps” actually comes from a nickname a friend gave Heidi when she was a baby, “Heidi-Peeps”. Sarah wanted a friendly feel to the charity name, and a link to Heidi, the driving force behind everything she does.
In any spare time she has, Sarah likes to blog (you can read her HIE journey here) and dream about how she would spend a lottery win (apparently the list is already quite long!).
Jade & Christian
We’re super proud to say our Ambassadors are Jade and Christian from Sign Along With Us.
Christian experienced a HIE event at birth, but despite the challenges, he has exceeded all expectations – communicating, walking and being the smiliest boy you could meet!
Jade taught Christian sign language from an early age, to help him communicate, and started to share this with others. Sign Along With Us was formed, and you may just recognise them as David Walliams’ Golden Buzzer winners from Britain’s Got Talent!
Co-Founder & Trustee
By day, Steve is a Commercial Insurance Broker – he is also Dad to Heidi, cycling enthusiast (when he finds the time), and always up for a crazy new challenge or two. Since having Heidi, he has taken part in several fundraising events for causes close to the family’s heart – the most impressive and gruelling one being the Land’s End to John O’Groats bike ride in 2017…960miles, 9 days on the saddle…ouch!
Chair of Trustees
This is Jen!
Jen works in Manchester as a solicitor and specialises in child brain injury work. She has worked with families affected by HIE for many years.
In her spare time, she can often be found climbing mountains or planning crazy challenging trips abroad. In 2019 she climbed Mount Toubkal in Morocco to raise money for Peeps. Most recently she climbed Kilimanjaro and despite the altitude sickness she is planning to head back to altitude again in 2021 for another trekking challenge.
Welcome to the team Jen – your adventures sound exhausting but we’ll be cheering you on!
I’m Sue and am pleased to have been appointed as a Trustee for Peeps.
I retired following a fulfilling career as a Neonatal nurse (which included caring for Heidi, the little lady behind all of this, for a short while) and would like to use the skills and knowledge gained during my career to support and further the work and ethos of Peeps.
I am particularly keen to be able to work with health care professionals to raise awareness of the purpose of the charity in all stages of a family’s journey through the maze of health and social care.
My interests are fairly sedate, I enjoy gardening, knitting and sewing and am relishing my retirement.
Hannah joined our team of Trustees in May 2020 – here’s a little more from her:
“Hi, I’m Hannah. I’m very fortunate to currently be a stay-at-home mum to my two beautiful children Ethan our eldest and Evelyn our youngest. I’m married to Mike who works in Marketing.
Our first encounter with Peeps was in 2019 when Evelyn was born, she’s grade 1 HIE and very quickly after her birth our world collided with this incredible charity. A collision amidst adversity we were incredibly thankful for.
Having spent the last 15 years prior to the birth of my eldest child (now aged three) working in the third sector I feel I have a vast range of knowledge and experience that I can draw upon as a trustee to support the Peeps vision, team and legal position as a Registered Charity.
Aside from being ‘Mum’ I love to bake, in fact there have been some cake sales with proceeds raised going to Peeps, I’m sure they’ll be room for more of those alongside the charity governance. I’m looking forward to meeting you, and hearing your story over a piece of cake one day.”