Local midwife, Bridget Smith, who works for Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust recently celebrated 50 years as a qualified midwife.

Staff at the St Peter’s maternity unit threw a surprise party for Bridget on 30th December to mark her astonishing achievement, which took her totally unawares.

“I thought I was going out to dinner with my son and daughter,” said Bridget, “it was a wonderful surprise when we arrived at St Peter’s and saw how many people had come along to join us.” The guests included Bridget’s daughter, Jane Sinclair, who has followed in Mum’s footsteps and is herself a Senior Midwife at St Peter’s.

Bridget undertook part of her midwifery training at Queen Charlotte’s Hospital in London, and qualified on 1st December 1960. After living and working in Cheltenham and Cornwall, Bridget arrived to take up a midwifery sister’s post at St Peter’s in 1970 when what is now the Abbey wing first opened as a Maternity Unit. Since then she has worked on the labour and post-natal wards, as a community midwife and as a breastfeeding advisor and even delivered two of her grandchildren. Since officially retiring 14 years ago, Bridget – who is now 74 - returned to work on the ‘bank’ and fills in wherever she is needed, but mostly as a community midwife working with the Topaz team in Ashford. And, as if that’s not enough, along with her colleague, Viv, Bridget also helps to run independent parent education classes in the evenings.

Said Bridget: “I’ve seen many changes over the 50 years, but the biggest change is in the number of interventions we are able to carry out during labour. Where once we relied more on our eyes and hands technology has taken over, and with it of course we are able to save more lives and bring about many more successful outcomes for Mums and their babies.”

One final word from Bridget: “What I would really like to say is how dedicated the midwifery staff here at the Trust are. They are busier than ever and their roles are becoming much more professional, but they manage magnificently. Their dedication is amazing.”

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