About Kit Tarka Foundation

Kit Tarka Foundation (KTF) was established in 2018 by Sarah and James de Malplaquet after their son Kit Tarka died at just 13 days old.


After discovering that Kit had died from neonatal herpes (the cold sore virus in babies), Sarah set out to learn as much as she could about this devastating disease. She was astonished by the lack of awareness amongst the general public and, most disturbingly, by the huge gaps in knowledge of symptoms and best practice in the UK medical profession. It soon became clear that Kit’s death had been preventable and that the lack of knowledge around the transmission, recognition and treatment of the virus had led to his tragic and untimely death. You can read Kit's story here


After contacting several charities to see if they could facilitate long overdue research into neonatal herpes but being told it was not within the scope of any of them, Sarah and James decided they needed to establish their own charity to help prevent more tragedies like Kit's. To that end, KTF was launched with a mission to prevent newborn baby deaths through research and education.


Our initial projects will focus on neonatal herpes but in the longer term, the aim is for KTF to fund projects into all causes of preventable neonatal death.


To prevent newborn baby deaths through research and education.


Babies who are born healthy stay healthy. Preventable neonatal deaths in the UK are eliminated.



Sarah de Malplaquet

Chief Executive & Trustee

Sarah founded KTF with her partner James in January 2018 after their 13 day old son, Kit, died from neonatal herpes. She manages the day-to-day activities of the charity and looks after the finances.

Sarah is a charity finance professional. She started her finance career with an accountancy firm where she trained in general audit, moving over to their film team after qualification. After a career break volunteering and travelling, she entered the charity world as Financial Controller for BAFTA. Sarah then moved to The Charleston Trust, a house museum and arts venue in Sussex, where she was Head of Finance for 5 years before commencing the Chief Executive role on a paid basis. 


Bella Cripps

Fundraising Manager

Bella has recently joined Kit Tarka as our Fundraising Manager. With nearly 12 years experience in Marketing, Fundraising and Events she hopes to help the team to make a real difference. She is passionate about charity and helping others, loves psychology, being creative, and a good dance in the kitchen whilst cooking up a feast for the family!


James de Malplaquet 

Chair of the Trustees

James founded KTF with Sarah. He is involved with all aspects of the charity with a focus on fundraising and events.

James is the Director of Studies at Loxdale English Centre & Swedish Folk High School, where he has been for over 3 years. He has been teaching for 15 years, working in English language schools and at Sussex University as a teacher and teacher trainer. He is a member of Sussex Director of Studies Association for which he has delivered teacher development workshops. 

James has also been a professional musician. His band, The Miserable Rich, released five albums and toured Europe and North America over a 7 year period and made a comeback for the inaugural Kit Fest fundraising concert in 2018.



Lauren Cole


Lauren is a recently joined member of the Board with a background in marketing, social media and rare diseases. Prior to joining the team, Lauren spent 20 years working in multinational companies in HR and Marketing and her experience will contribute to the continued innovation, growth and development of KTF’s projects. Lauren graduated from Sussex University with a degree in Applied Psychology and as well as bringing this to her work she enjoys applying this to bringing up two small people at home too.

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Julia Dudley


Julia joined KTF as a trustee in 2020 after learning about the charity through her academic research into neonatal HSV. She is a paediatric doctor who has worked in London and Brighton, and is passionate about improving awareness and understanding of neonatal herpes amongst healthcare professionals and the public.


Emma Payne


Emma is Kit's 'Godlessmother' and joined the Board in 2018 bringing her energy, enthusiasm and wise counsel to  the organisation and helping us flourish. She has a background in marketing and business strategy and will be using this expertise to help shape the charity as it grows.

Susie Tempest


Susie is a founding trustee and heavily involved with the fundraising side of KTF, having over seven years of fundraising experience. 


Susie currently looks after corporate sponsorship at Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival, prior to which she spent six years as Head of Development at The Charleston Trust. She has experience of all aspects of fundraising including trust and foundation applications, donor circles, crowd funding and corporate sponsorship. Prior to joining Charleston, Susie spent 15 years working in marketing and PR in London. 


Susie studied Modern Languages at the University of East Anglia and now lives in Brighton with her husband and family. She is passionate about the arts, books and the outdoors, as well as child development and well-being.


You can read more about our achievements and finances in our annual reports which are available online:

Annual report and accounts 2019

Annual report and accounts 2018


Kit was given the middle name Tarka for Sarah's love of swimming and James' love of otters. He was their little otter who never got to swim. They noticed from the clothes that Kit wore in his time with them that they also really liked the colour orange and it became his colour. Friends and family wore orange flowers in remembrance of Kit at his funeral.

We are very grateful to our good friend Mel Hudson from Stir Creative for designing our wonderful logo.

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