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Permanent memorial unveiled at Saints for community midwives’ work during the Pandemic

A permanent memorial to the work of community midwives during the pandemic was unveiled on Monday at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens. 

The 15 midwives from Northampton General Hospital were based at the stadium from June 2020 through to March 2021, after GP surgeries stopped hosting clinics because of infection fears.

The community midwifery team then launched a search for new premises – until Northampton Saints and cinch Stadium offered to help. 

The memorial plaque, which says ‘This area was home to Northampton General Hospital community midwifery services during the pandemic 2020-21’, is a fitting tribute to their efforts, and the incredible support they received from the community – including hospital staff, family, police officers, Saints players, charitable fundraisers and staff at the stadium.

Community Matron Anne Richley and Community Sister Claire Dale and their team had the task of completely relocating their service to the stadium.

Richley said: “When the GP surgeries closed, we initially took over rooms at the hospital, but many pregnant women were terrified of coming into hospital as they perceived that was where they could pick up the virus. 

“So, we began to tour the local area during lockdown looking for other premises. Fortunately, Northampton Saints embraced the challenge with open arms, and we started the move.”

Anne Richley, Community Matron

They faced a colossal task of moving, and creating, clinical spaces in corridors, function rooms and VIP boxes at the ground – unused at the time because of Covid-19 restrictions.

In October 2021, the Royal College of Midwives presented Richley and Dale with an ‘Excellence in Maternity Care During a Global Pandemic’ Award for their work in keeping community maternity services running.

Northampton Saints Chief Executive Mark Darbon said: “The early part of the pandemic was a time of huge gratitude for the front-line work being done by the NHS.

“We wanted to help and when the community midwifery team came to us, we worked with them to create the temporary hubs so that hundreds of women could be supported at a time when they might otherwise have been feeling vulnerable.

“We felt it was very fitting that we create a permanent memorial which shows how the community came together to support the NHS at the most difficult period in its history.”

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