Midwife Maxine Campbell served the NHS for nearly half of its 70 years - but still she feels like its has been a “beautiful career that has gone so quickly”.
Her 34-year stretch came to an end on Friday, delivering one final baby boy in Leeds on the morning of her retirement.
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A delivery suite coordinator of 20 years, she has spent the last 11 at St James’s Hospital after a decade at Leeds General Infirmary.
Miss Campbell, 55, said: “I always wanted to be a midwife. I just felt like it was one of those careers that looked really exciting, when you want to give something back to society, when you’re young and vibrant.
“I felt there was lots for me to give and lots for people to gain from me.”
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Miss Campbell, of Huddersfield, started training in 1984 at Dewsbury and District Hospital, before moving to Pontefract, qualifying in 1989.
She later worked as a community midwife throughout Calderdale, until moving on to Leeds.
“I’ve met so many people from all over the world, I’ve worked with people from all over the world. It’s been a great experience,” she said.
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As well as learning communication and leadership skills, she has also enjoyed the “diverse” teaching hospital culture in Leeds.
Some parts of the job have changed, though – mostly for the better.
She said: “The basis of the job is exactly the same, delivering a baby. What’s changed is all the computerisation. It’s hard work, but it does make it better.”
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Having been part of potentially thousands of babies’ deliveries, there were bound to have been special moments.
As well as enjoying the “surreal and beautiful” experience of bringing twins into the world, she also delivered her own nephew – Hull City footballer Fraizer Campbell.
“It was absolutely lovely - it was like being at home,” she said.
Miss Campbell wants to keep busy after retirement, and has planned a joint celebration of the NHS and Windrush generation turning 70, which will be held at Huddersfield Town Hall on September 29.
Her mother Winnifred, 82, came to England from Jamaica in the 1960s, years after the The SS Empire Windrush arrived on June 22, 1948, and Miss Campbell is proud of migrant contributions to the NHS.
Before leaving, Miss Campbell had time to enjoy a party on the Gledhow Wing at St James’s Hospital with family, friends and colleagues who fought back the tears. They also handed over a memory book to Miss Campbell, which she was “overwhelmed” to receive.
Workmate of nine years Jenny Gill, 32, said: “She’s just amazing. I’ve known her from being a student, so I learned a lot from her. People aspire to be like Maxine.”