A Horsham midwife who is retiring after 35 years said she was ‘honoured’ to have taken part in many home births throughout her career.
Carolyn Hay, 58, will retire next month, after working at Holbrook Surgery since September 1991 and delivering over 800 babies in the Horsham area alone.
Whilst working at Horsham Hospital and Holbrook Surgery, where she offered ante natal and post natal care, Carolyn would exclusively attend her own patients’ home births on a voluntary basis.
She said: “It’s a special time for people and I am very honoured and humbled to be allowed to be part of that.”
“It’s about being trusted and included in that special time in people’s lives.
“It’s a very intimate thing.”
Over the years, Carolyn has grown to become a trusted and well renown midwife in the Horsham area.
In fact, her help and support is still recognised today, as many of the children she delivered 20 years ago have now become expecting mums.
Carolyn said: “I can go into town and be stopped about ten times by people who’s mother’s I helped deliver.”
He dedication to visiting patients’ home is a gesture that has not been easily forgotten by many.
Former patient Siobhan McMahon recalls how ‘relaxed’ she felt when Carolyn helped her deliver her second child in her own home nearly ten years ago.
She described it as ‘a special experience, adding: “You develop a real bond with your midwife.”
Siobhan, a general practice nurse at Holbrook Surgery, said how Carolyn tended towards her every need during her home birth.
This ranged from providing essential medical care to other small gestures, such as having someone to talk to leading up to the birth, or being made cups of tea.
Siobhan said: “I felt like I’ve been spoilt.”
Carolyn has also acted as a mentor to midwifery student 24-year-old Camilla Elster.
The Surrey University student said: “Carolyn is such a fantastic mentor, this surgery has been really lovely.”
Camilla is in her final year of her midwifery course, and has undertaken several placements throughout her academic year.
She explained how important it is to have the right mentor when training for such a profession.
She added: “I’ve been really lucky, Carolyn has been so supportive and really encouraging.
“She just put me at ease from day one and it’s so sad that she is leaving.”
Both Siobhan and Camilla described Carolyn as a ‘wonderful’ mentor and colleague and ‘cannot thank her enough’ for all her dedication and hard work.
After training in 1978 as a general nurse at King’s College London in 1978, Carolyn qualified as a midwife at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in 1980.
When asked why she wanted to pursue a career in midwifery, she said:
“I wanted to travel.
“With a midwifery qualification you could travel around the world,” before adding “I got married and had two children instead.”
After working in as a midwife in Liverpool for three years she relocated to Horsham in 1990.
Carolyn said: “I have been so, so lucky.”
Whilst her work is widely praised and recognised my many mums, friends and colleagues, Carolyn is still very humble about the importance of her role over the past two decades in Horsham.
She explained how she wanted to take part in the home births as it made her feel ‘so good’ about it, but also considered it ‘selfish’.
Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust chief nurse, Fiona Allsop said: “Carolyn has been a fantastic member of our midwifery team and a wonderful support to so many new mums in the community.
“Every day she brought a great level of care, professionalism and dedication to her role and we will all miss her.”
After retiring Carolyn wishes to set up an aroma therapy parlour for expectant mothers who are at the very end of their pregnancy.
Despite retiring next month, Carolyn would still like to take part in home deliveries.
Looking back at the career, she said: “I would love to thank all the wonderful families that I have been involved with over this time.
“I have been so privileged to have shared so many wonderful experiences and memories during my amazing career.”