Markyate mum to run half-marathon for donor breast milk charity

Rachel Humphreys.

Rachel Humphreys. - Credit: Archant

A Markyate mum is running a half marathon to help parents access donated breast milk for sick and premature babies.

Dr Natalie Shenker in the milk bank.

Dr Natalie Shenker in the milk bank. - Credit: Archant

Rachel Humphreys, who has two children, will take part in the St Albans Half Marathon on Sunday, June 10, to raise money for The Human Milk Foundation.

The charity was set up to support the work of Hearts Milk Bank, which is based at the University of Hertfordshire’s Biopark in Welwyn Garden City. The Milk Bank supplies donor milk to more than 25 hospitals across London, the south east and East Anglia, feeding sick and premature babies before their mothers can establish their own milk supply.

Rachel said: “After running a half marathon around nine years ago I said I would never do it again, but my husband and I felt we needed another challenge.

“My first baby Sophie was born eight weeks early seven years ago, and when I asked her which charity she would like me to raise money for her response was ‘something to help other babies born early like I was’.”

Rachel's daughter Sophie now.

Rachel's daughter Sophie now. - Credit: Archant

Since opening a year ago, Hearts Milk Bank has also supported 12 families experiencing cancer and pregnancy, or low breast milk supply.

Founder Dr Natalie Shenker, who lives in St Albans, said: “We’ve had an incredible year at Hearts, supported by the University of Hertfordshire and many others in the local community.

Most Read

“We have now sent out over 400 litres of donor milk to hospitals. This will have fed up to 1,000 babies, where it acts like a medicine and protects them from some of the awful complications of being born early.”

The charity now aims to make donor milk increasingly available in the community to help feed babies whose mothers cannot breastfeed, whether they have had mastectomies or need to take medications which prevent breastfeeding.

Sophie as a baby.

Sophie as a baby. - Credit: Archant

A mum, who wished to remain anonymous, was diagnosed with breast cancer during pregnancy and gave birth five weeks early. She said: “Although for me, nothing could have replaced the joy of breastfeeding my baby, the Hearts Milk Bank enabled us to do the next best thing – to feed precious donor breastmilk to our daughter.”

To support Rachel go to

A donor milk delivery.

A donor milk delivery. - Credit: Archant