By David Coyle
A Vale of Leven midwife has brought an end to her career by helping to safely deliver a colleague’s baby.
Marie Whalen, Senior Charge Midwife at the Vale of Leven Community Midwifery Unit, has spent 34 years working as a midwife, not only delivering babies, but helping train future midwives.
Legendary midwife Marie Whalen pictured with the Richardson family – dad Callum Richardson, mum Robyn and baby Vera.
And when Marie’s former student Robyn Richardson, who works as a midwife at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, was deciding where to have her labour, there was only one place it was going to be.
Robyn, from Dumbarton, said: “I had several placements at the Vale of Leven when I was training, and Marie was always there for support.
“It can be a bit scary when you’re a student, but Marie created an environment where you could learn and ask questions and feel comfortable.
“When it was time for me to give birth, I could have had the baby delivered by my colleagues at the QEUH, but I wanted a local birth.
“When I called the hospital and they told me Marie was on duty, I was so relieved. Along with everyone else at the unit, I really couldn’t have asked for any better”
Marie, from Dumbarton, leads the team of 14 midwives, three Health Care Support Workers and two gynaecology nurses at the Vale, and has delivered hundreds of babies over the years.
And while changes have taken place at the Vale over those years, the importance of the vital role that Marie and her team play hasn’t changed at all.
Marie, who started working at Vale in 1982 as auxiliary, said: “It has changed over the years. It used to be a consultants-led unit until 2004 when it became a Community Maternity Unit.
“We still have all the services and support from colleagues across Clyde and the midwives and consultants complement each other in terms of what we do.
“We’ve got good links the RAH and that network has improved and grown over the years.
“The Vale has a real family feel to it, a friendly hospital.
“Home births are becoming more common – we’ve had two so far this year and it’s all down to women’s preference.
“At home they can feel more at ease in their own surroundings, but you still have a midwife on hand.”
Being something of a “local legend”, it’s no surprise that Marie has bumped into people she knows rather well.
Marie added: “One woman came in to have her baby and she was with her partner and his mum.
“His mum asked at reception ‘Is Marie Whelan still working here? She delivered him and his three brothers.”
Angela Watt, former Lead Midwife, Women and Children’s Services, said: “I had the privilege of working with Marie for three years as a midwife, and witnessed Marie go above and beyond on a daily basis in order to provide women and babies with a first-class service at the Vale of Leven.”
Mary Ross-Davie, NHSGGC Director of Midwifery, said: “We’d like to thank Marie for her many years of service in what is one of the fundamental parts of the NHS.
“Everyone’s journey begins at birth and it’s people like Marie who ensure that we offer the best possible care that we can to women who use our maternity services.
“We wish Marie a happy retirement – she deserves it!”