Our People

Save Childhood Movement: People across the globe, uniting to protect young children and their future

Our Patron 

Sir Al Aynsley-Green


Sir Al Aynsley-Green began his medical career at Guy’s Hospital in London before developing his speciality of paediatric endocrinology in University hospitals in Oxford, England, and Zurich, Switzerland. He was appointed Clinical and then University Lecturer in Paediatrics and Fellow of Green College in the University of Oxford, then Professor of Child Health and Head of the School of Clinical Medical Sciences at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He was invited to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and the Institute of Child Health in London as Nuffield Professor of Child Health and Board level Executive Director for Clinical R&D. There, as well as leading the institutional organisation of world class clinical research, he developed further his personal scientific research, especially in developing new ways of alleviating pain and stress in infants and children, and understanding the effects of disordered hormone secretion. He has published over 300 papers from his scientific work. 

Sir Al has been involved in the political arena of Children’s Services since 2000. He was appointed Chair of the first NHS Children’s Taskforce and then the first National Clinical Director for Children in government where he was responsible for defining the first national comprehensive standards of health care services for children, young people and expecting mothers. He was then appointed the first statutory Children’s Commissioner for England in 2005, a post created by Parliament to be the independent voice for the 11 million children and young people of England. In this he developed new ways of engaging with them, particularly those most invisible in society.

Among his achievements was the exposing to public and political view the injustices faced by children with mental ill health, those in conflict with the law, and those seeking asylum. He stood down after his five years of tenure as Children’s Commissioner in 2010 and is now Professor Emeritus of Child Health at University College London, and Founder and Director of Aynsley-Green Consulting, engaging with governments and organisations worldwide on children, childhood and children’s services. He was knighted by Her Majesty the Queen in 2006 for his services to children and young people and in 2015 was elected President of the British Medical Association (BMA).

Management Team

Wendy Ellyatt – Chief Executive


Wendy was the inspiration behind the creation of the movement and has been leading its growth. For the last thirty years she has been exploring the unique qualities of human learning and development, with a particular emphasis on what gives us meaning and purpose. Her studies have taken her from being a specialist in the foundational importance of early learning, to examining early years policymaking, international perspectives, natural systems dynamics and the importance of family and community life for the creation of sustainable societies and cultures of lifelong learning. Over the last ten years she has devoted her time to addressing a growing concern about societal values and wellbeing and the importance of safeguarding natural development in the early years.

In 2014 the Movement established National Children’s Day UK www.nationalchildrensdayuk.com  as a significant platform for raising awareness about child rights and wellbeing. In 2018 she created the Flourish Project www.flourishproject.net as a major new global initiative to share her thoughts and ideas about the need for ecological solutions, and in 2019 she became Co-Chair of the Global Council for the Wellbeing Economy Alliance

In her own home town of Cheltenham she has also explored how we nurture adult wellbeing through the establishment of two highly successful community initiatives. What does fulfill us and produce sustainable states of wellbeing? How do we protect both children and adults from systems that undermine our inherent creativity and potential? How do we ensure that we can all feel valued and connected? Wendy’s diverse projects explore the UK’s current education system, the modern world’s erosion of childhood and our shared need for meaningful relationship, community and contribution. 

John Stevens – Strategic Development 


John Stevens joined us as a Strategic Development consultant, in 2015 he became a director and Chairman of the Board, and in 2018 he returned to being an advisor. He has worked in the development of sport and physical activity since graduating from Loughborough University as a teacher of physical education and biological science in the mid 70’s. He taught in New Malden and lectured at St Mary’s College Twickenham and the University of Newcastle before joining the GB Sports Council as a Regional Development Officer in 1982, moving to the Sports Council for Wales as Head of Sports Performance in 1985. In 1992 he joined Humberside County Council as Senior Assistant Director of Leisure and Libraries and, following local government reorganisation, transferred to the East Riding of Yorkshire in 1995 as Assistant Director of Education and Libraries.

In 1997 he was appointed CEO of the charity Sports Coach UK and led a major turn-round in the fortunes of the organisation as well as establishing and advising the Minister of Sport’s Coaching Task Force, which led to a significant improvement in the qualification, training and employment of sports coaches in the UK. In 2004 he was appointed CEO of Active Gloucestershire with a remit to lead the organisation into charitable status. He led the organisation through the start up phase before establishing it as one of the leading county sports partnerships in England. In April 2015 he left Active Gloucestershire to establish his own management consultancy for sport, community organisations and SMEs.
He has an MBA from the Open University and the Institute of Director’s Diploma in Company Direction and has served as a Director of Coachwise Ltd; England Netball; British Weightlifting and StreetGames UK as well as chairing several industry working groups.

Sally Grindley – Project Director National Children’s Day UK


Sally Grindley is an award-winning children’s author of some 30 years’ standing, who has had over 150 books published, including the award-winning Shhh! and Spilled Water and best-selling Knock Knock Who’s There?

Sally began her career with a popular nationwide children’s book club, where as Editorial Director for 16 years she was responsible for selecting the very best children’s books to go into a monthly magazine, as well as producing the magazine. She was a judge of the Mother Goose Award (for the most exciting newcomer to children’s book illustration) and mounted a major retrospective at The Commonwealth Institute in London. Sally’s first books were published while she was still with the club, but she became a full-time author in 1995.

Sally has achieved great recognition for her ability to extend a child’s emotional experience, and her books for older readers are marked by lively curiosity and great humanity.  She is equally well-known for her picture books, which are often used to demonstrate to adult readers how to engage and interact with their young audiences, and to have fun in the process! You can read more about her work on www.sallygrindley.co.uk

Diahann Hughes Hawkins – Director Membership Development 

Diahann Hughes-Hawkins has lived in the UK for over twenty years, and became particularly interested in early learning and education through having her two children. Whilst her educational background is in International Studies and Economics (BA Hons) in the US, she has spent many years since in project management and marketing positions, including being Founding Director of a trust focused on the relevance of indigenous learning perspectives to sustainable futures.

In 2012 she was faced with the dilemma of being unhappy with the choice of local primary schools for her young children and launched a local free school campaign Wye Nature, that ultimately led to a merger with local primary school at the foot of the Black Mountains with a similar ethos. She is now Chair of Governors for the school and has been actively involved with marketing & setting up the preschool the past few years, helping to replenish diminishing numbers in this idyllic rural school. Diahann is passionate about the need for true parental choice in education, and discovering solutions to bring international knowledge and expertise to current UK policymaking.

Dr David Whitebread – Head of Research


Our Head of Research, Dr David Whitebread, is a globally recognised developmental cognitive psychologist and early years specialist who until 2018 led the development of the the new PEDaL (Play in Education, Development & Learning) research centre within the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. Before joining the Faculty he taught mostly in the early years in Primary schools, mainly in Leicestershire, for 12 years.

His research interests are concerned with children’s cognitive development and implications for early years and primary education. This has mainly focused on self-regulation in young children, and the roles of play and oral language in its development. He has published widely in academic journals and book chapters, and has edited or written a number of influential reports and books, including Quality in Early Childhood Education – an International Review and Guide for Policy Makers (WISE, 2015), Teaching and Learning in the Early Years (Routledge, 4th Ed., 2015), Developmental Psychology & Early Childhood Education (Sage, 2012) and The importance of play: a report on the value of children’s play with a series of policy recommendations (Toys Industries for Europe, 2012).


Rosie Dutton – Social Media Officer, National Children’s Day UK


Rosie oversees the social media for NCDUK and has loved being part of the team that has developed the day from its small beginnings. She is passionate about the Early Years and allowing children the right to a playful, nurturing and happy childhood. 
As a Forest School Leader, Relax Kids Coach and Developmental Movement Play specialist she runs sessions for children and their families in and around her local community. She also acts as a spokesperson for the Summerborn Campaign.


Harriet Broadfoot – Membership Communications Manager, Researcher – National Children’s Day UK


Harriet studied at Durham University and went onto train and work as a volunteer adviser with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, a mentor with the County Council for foster care leavers, and worked part time as a medico-legal assistant. Her love of young children, coupled with an avid interest in society, culture and mental health, led her to train as a Montessori directress and from there, to qualify as an EYT with a PGcert in early years professional teaching. Through this journey she developed a deep passion for enabling children to have the best start in life by ensuring they have access to environments (physical, social and emotional) that allow them to follow their own natural developmental path, respect and nurture their natural curiosities and abilities, and celebrate their idiosyncrasies and unfolding characters. She is an active member of MQ Research, CALM, EYTO and MSA, as well as a supporter of Mind, Unique Childhood Network and Project Wild. She adores being immersed in nature, taking long walks, drawing, experimenting in the kitchen, anime and pursing yogic practice and meditation. 

Jane Farrar _ Graphic Design

Jane studied Illustration & Graphic design at Liverpool John Moore’s University before qualifying to teach Art and Design and working in Liverpool comprehensives and with children no longer in full time education due to permanent exclusion. Teaching continued in the primary sector in St Lucia as a classroom teacher in addition to working with the St Lucian Education Secretary and the Rotary Club implementing a curriculum for art in primary schools and working with local teachers, teaching how to teach art.

She left the education sector in 2002 and worked as a designer in magazine publishing before becoming an independent designer and illustrator and later founding Round Circle Design Ltd. She has been actively working with the Movement since 2012

Torkild Smith – Technical advisor


Torkild has been working as a web developer for many years. He has extensive knowledge in building and deploying websites for the business world. He is based in Manchester (UK) and is a certified WordPress expert. He also specialises in security and malware cleanup. 

He is currently responsible for several client websites, both large and small, including those of high visibility, multi-national companies and brands such as DeLonghi and Kenwood. His focus is on developing websites that are not only great looking, but also highly effective.