Ann Chalmers, Chief Executive of Child Bereavement UK has been awarded an MBE in the King’s Birthday Honours for services to bereaved children, young people, parents and families across the United Kingdom.

Child Bereavement UK helps families to rebuild their lives when a child grieves or when a child dies. The charity supports children and young people (up to the age of 25) when someone important to them has died or is not expected to live, and parents and the wider family when a baby or child of any age dies or is dying. Child Bereavement UK also provides training to professionals in health and social care, education, the emergency services and the voluntary and corporate sectors, equipping them to provide the best possible care to bereaved families.

Ann Chalmers has worked in the bereavement sector for over 30 years; she joined Child Bereavement UK in 1996 and became CEO in 2003, when the charity employed around 20 staff. Child Bereavement UK is now a UK-wide organisation employing nearly 90 staff in services from London to Glasgow. 

Over the years Ann has shone a spotlight on the impact of bereavement and the need for support to improve the mental health and wellbeing of thousands of bereaved children, young people, parents and families. She has identified gaps in the existing provision of bereavement support across the UK and has made it her mission to tackle the postcode lottery in bereavement support. 

In 2012, Ann spearheaded a national mapping project of bereavement services across the UK; this served as the basis to expand the charity from a local Buckinghamshire-based charity to a charity of UK standing, which now offers direct bereavement support services in Glasgow, Cumbria, Cheshire, Leeds, Buckinghamshire, East London and West London, with outreach services into Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Yorkshire and across Scotland.

Ann has also developed, designed and delivered training to thousands of professionals including education and health professionals, as well as HR professionals, to ensure that they have the understanding and systems in place to support bereaved employees.  In response to the pandemic, Ann trained nearly 500 doctors to give them tools they need to build resilience, manage stress and recognise the signs of burnout as a result of their work with dying patients and bereaved families, often in traumatic circumstances. 

Commenting on the honour, Ann Chalmers said:  

For me, this honour is truly about all the bereaved families I’ve learned so much from and who have informed the work of the charity over the years, and I’m incredibly grateful to our wonderful staff, Trustees, volunteers and supporters who have all helped make Child Bereavement UK what it is today.

To find out more about the work of Child Bereavement UK: