Jessica Hepburn is one of the UK's leading patient voices on fertility, infertility and assisted conception.
Formerly Executive Director of the Lyric Hammersmith for ten years, Jessica led from inception to completion the theatre’s £20m capital redevelopment project. Whilst doing this, she was also trying to become a mother and went through eleven rounds of IVF at a range of UK fertility clinics which resulted in multiple miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy that almost took her life.
In February 2014, Jessica published a book about her experiences called The Pursuit of Motherhood. This catapulted her into the limelight as one of the first people prepared to talk openly about the stigma of infertility. Her new book 21 Miles: Swimming in search of the meaning of motherhood was published in May 2018.
In 2016, Jessica founded Fertility Fest the world’s first arts festival dedicated to fertility, infertility, modern families and the science of making babies. The second edition of the festival took place at the Bush Theatre in London (8th - 13th May 2018) and at the ESHRE Conference in Barcelona (2nd - 4th July 2018). As part of the festival, she is also leading a ground-breaking fertility arts education project and campaign, entitled Modern Families, aimed at encouraging the Government to provide more rounded and robust fertility education in schools.
Jessica has become a high-profile commentator on the subject of fertility, infertility and assisted conception in the press and media. She also regularly speaks at public events about her story and all aspects of IVF. Jessica also holds a number of non executive positions in the world of fertility and the arts:- she has been a trustee of the national charity Fertility Network UK; a patient adviser to the HFEA, the government’s independent regulator of fertility treatment; and is a member of the Fertility Education Initiative chaired by Professor Adam Balen. She is also a current trustee of various arts organisations including the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, Opera Holland Park and is Chair of the contemporary circus and performance company Crying Out Loud.
Finally, Jessica is dedicating this decade of her life to taking on some of the world’s most iconic endurance challenges to raise awareness and money for children and adults without the families they long for. On 2nd September 2015 she became the 491st woman to swim the English Channel in 17 hours 44 minutes and 30 seconds and on 23rd April 2017 she completed the London Marathon. She is currently training for a third record-breaking challenge in Spring 2020. To date she has raised over £30,000 for her chosen charities including Fertility Network UK.
I just wanted to thank you again for inviting me to your wonderful festival, for hosting me so beautifully, and of course reading and telling the world about 21 Miles. It was such a memorable day - afterwards the Guernsey girls took me out swimming, and for cake and fish and chips (in that order). I’ll never forget it.