I’ve met Emma Collins in person just the once, but exchanged many emails with her as we worked together on an NCT project so when we did manage face-to-face contact I loved her instantly! She is so great at what she does; I’m so sad I won’t have her any more as the ‘user friendly’ face of IT. However my loss is TAMBA’s gain, so thanks Emma for another fabulous #myNCTstory.
When I fell pregnant in 2005 one of the first things I was told was that I needed to do an NCT class.  Being Australian, and only a few years living in the UK, I had no idea what that meant but looked it up, contacted my local branch and they organised a class for me.  I went to the Salvation Army centre in Egham, did an antenatal class with Rebecca Wierenga, and met a group of people who I still see regularly and regard as some of my best friends 11 years later.
We moved house, I got pregnant again, I took a refresher course with Kerry Harris, more so to meet people than anything else, and again, met a group of people that I am still in regular contact with; one of whom is Godmother to my third child.
Back in 2007, pregnant with my second child, in a new house where I didn’t know anybody, I received my quarterly newsletter from my local branch and they were advertising for a branch secretary.  I rang up about it, saying I’d like to help and asked if I needed to interview.  They laughed at me and told me I had the ‘job’!  I was so nervous when I was picked up for my first committee meeting that I forgot to put any shoes on, and half way there had to ask the lovely woman who had picked me up if she would take me back home so I could change my slippers!  That lovely woman was Sharon Pontin.  We worked on the committee together for years and she then re-trained as a midwife and now works at the Royal Surrey in Guildford.  We are still in contact.
I volunteered on my local committee from 2007, and am still a volunteer today.  During that time I have been the branch secretary, membership support, membership coordinator, bumps and babes coordinator, toddler group coordinator, website coordinator and branch coordinator (and probably more).  I have also helped at nearly every NNS for the past 9 years and am very adept at picking up sets of rails and fitting them into my car.  My rough calculations make me think that I’ve transported 672 sets of rails over the years!  Through my volunteer NCT committee work I have met the most amazing friends, and we have done incredible work in our local area.  We have had a lot of press coverage for the great groups we run, and won awards over the years for support in the local community.
I enjoyed the volunteering I did with NCT so much that in 2009 I enrolled on the Bedfordshire program to become a Postnatal Facilitator, with the incredible Linda Doyle as my tutor.  It took me longer than planned to finish that course (courtesy of surprise baby #3), but in 2012 started running Early Days courses whilst also running baby massage classes.  I had trained privately to teach baby massage as it wasn’t a service that NCT offered at that time, and I recently found a draft email I had written to Belinda Phipps back in 2011 to tell her how good it would be to combine Early Days facilitation for new mothers with baby massage for babies.  I never sent the email, thinking that it wouldn’t get to her and she wouldn’t have read it.  Little did I know back then that indeed she would have, and how well the massage classes that NCT now run are going!
In 2014, when the opportunity came up to work 2 days a week from home as a Systems Analyst for the charity I had spent so much time supporting I applied for the position.  Belinda offered me a position, and I very quickly became involved with the Single Bank Account project, working closely with Debbie Clarke and the Volunteering team and I found myself loving being back doing the kind of work I had done for so many years before the kids came along.  When the opportunity arose to increase my hours and start managing the Web Development team in Bristol I grasped the opportunity before quite considering how big a step this was from my original commitment of hours that I could work.  But I took the position, giving it my full energy and commitment, considerably increasing the time that I was back working.  Whilst I was enjoying the challenges I knew in the back of my head that it was becoming more and more the ‘main’ part of my life, rather than ‘a job on the side’, which was highlighted recently by my now 10 year old son saying ‘I miss my Mum’ to a doctor’.
That comment broke my heart.
And so after a lot of thought and reflection I have made the decision to step back, and become more present with my family, and take a new job with a like-minded charity that is much more ‘Surrey-friendly’ with its location.  I am moving to TAMBA (Twins and Multiple Birth Association), who I know have some connections with NCT, and so I hope to continue to be able to support NCT through other ways.
There has truly not been a day that I have not shed a tear about my decision, nor a day that I haven’t questioned that I’m doing the right thing.  As I write this I still wonder if I’m doing the right thing!  This is an amazing charity that changed my life in the support I received as a new parent.  I know that in turn I have changed lives in the support that I have gone on to give new parents both as a volunteer and a practitioner, and I have tried to help improve the systems we have in place to support that frontline work that is so vital to every new parent in every community.
If you are still reading I thank you for allowing me to be so indulgent as to share my story.  I leave NCT with a heavy heart, but the knowledge that it will do great things.  And I wish you all the very best. 
To the IT crew down in Bristol – simply, thank you!  I shall really miss you all.