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From an interview with Rae Drage on 1st August 2008. Transcribed by Sue Manton
Jenny Wynd

1965 Carnival - Gold in the Spinney - Aspects of Midwifery

Jackie Case as Carnival Queen with Jenny Wynd and Janice Lee as attendants
Janice Lee, Jackie Case and Jenny Wynd

Carnival, 1965, my friends and I were members of Rushden Moor Road Youth Club and because they were holding a selection process we decided to put ourselves forward. I would never have done it if it had been anywhere else and surprisingly three of us, Jackie Case as she was then was Queen, Janice Lee and I were picked as attendants. That was in January or February, the Carnival was June 26th. Before then we had to have dresses made by a lady in one of the villages somewhere like Melchbourne and then re-vamped by a lady at Wills, I’m not sure who. Wills provided the dresses; mine and Janice’s were a beautiful silvery turquoise embossed material and I wore mine for many occasions afterwards. Jackie’s was a cream material embroidered with gold flowers. The fashion at the time was; low neck, three- quarter sleeves, A-line, long, and were he most wonderful thing to wear. Jackie was crowned by Mrs. Audrey Perkins, who was Vice-Chairman of the council, in a ceremony the night before the parade and the weather was awful.

A visit by Jackie Case, Jenny Wynd and Janice Lee to Rushden Hospital
At Rushden Hospital
As Carnival Queen and Attendants we were taken to lots of functions. We went to an Olde Time Musical Hall at the Windmill, to the sanatorium, the T.B. After Care. We went to a couple of other carnivals but I don’t have many memories of those. We attended a swimming gala at Rushden Outdoor swimming pool which was a really lovely pool and was good fun. A big crowd used to gather down there.

The Spinney was behind the house in Boundary Avenue which was where we lived. Behind Boundary Avenue was a cornfield that was sold off to Rushden Boys School to be used as a playing field. Because of the crop markings the archaeologists knew there was something to be found.  So when they sold it off the archaeologists came in to do some digging. Not that we knew anything about that, that was what we learnt later. I was cleaning my car one day my A35 called Bumble and this must have been 1967 or 8, and running down from The Spinney came a young boy shouting to everybody. ‘They’ve found gold in The Spinney. They’ve found gold in The Spinney!’ It was all cordoned off but it was somewhere to go and look, a bit like Time Team. They dug up a lot of interesting things; Roman, Saxon, Mediaeval. It had been used as a living area by lots of different people. Where all that went; probably Northampton Museum. Then everything had to be put back and levelled as the playing field, I think now it’s back to being a crop field.

I was at the Youth Club when I was 14 or 15 until I was about 18. It fell apart as we all moved on to do different things and it wasn’t quite as thriving as it had been. It picked up again but I don’t know what happened after that. When we were at the Youth Club we did things like, we went to the Musical Express Concert at Wembley. There were some fabulous people, we saw the Rolling Stones, the Bachelors, Dusty Springfield, Cilla Black. All of them were there. Georgie Fame, he was fabulous. All doing their live gigs, it was great. I went three times with the Youth Club. They arranged a coach. They also arranged coach trips to Northampton to see the Beatles and Kettering to see the Stones. We went to Hammersmith to see The Beatles; didn’t hear them, didn’t hear a thing but it was absolutely fabulous and that was all with the Youth Club.

In the sixties we had Birch’s Bus station. We used to get the bus every Saturday night to go to Bedford to the dances at the Corn Exchange and again saw all the good bands; The Hollies, The Tremeloes, they all played there. There was a big crowd that used to meet up there. The RAF blokes would come from Chicksands, Cardington.  Yes that was really something to look forward to but it had to be Birch’s bus. You had to get the last one about eleven o’clock at night and it didn’t go round the town, came straight through to the bus station. Then I had to walk home to Boundary Avenue from the centre of town. But that wasn’t a problem it was something I did every weekend.
People queueing for the Birch's coach at their garage
Birch's Coach in Garage

I started my nurse's training in 1971 at Kettering. In those days you had to do either State Enrolled Nursing or State Registered Nursing. State Enrolled was two years and State Registered three years so I thought I would do State Registered Nurse as I thought it would give me more chance to do other things. Before then I worked at Rushton Hall with the handicapped blind children. It was a junior school, boarding school and I was a house mother. I had my own eight children to look after and we were called the Wynd family and we went out on trips and things, it was wonderful. l became friendly with the school nurse. I thought it was a really wonderful job to do and that I would go away and do my nurse’s training and then go back and be a school nurse or something similar.

That was why I became a nurse but I never wanted to be a nurse to sick people. I still can’t imagine I was ever a nurse. During my nurse’s training we had to do a twelve week obstetrics' course. We were the very first school in the country to do it and we had to choose between mental health and midwifery, I chose midwifery. After that I just knew I wanted to be a midwife. As soon as I qualified I applied for a midwifery course and during the training I had to do time out with a community midwife. I did that in Rushden with a lady called, Mary Brown who was a midwife with the Doctors Lumb and Reading, I loved it. We delivered three babies at home in that time and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. As I was finishing that the midwife in the other practice was giving up, leaving to become a health visitor and in those days they couldn’t get community midwives for love nor money. I desperately wanted the job but because I was newly qualified, they made me do six months in the unit so that I had done two months in all areas; postnatal, ante-natal and labour ward before I was allowed to apply for this job. The job was still open, nobody wanted it and I got the job. Doctor Clark was the doctor then and he was such a lovely man. He would come up and put his hand on my shoulder and say “Now J-J-J-Jenny what are we going to do with this lady.” I just loved him to death and I think his patients did too. I went into the Irchester branch and was there for thirty years. In some of the families I’ve looked after the mum, then the daughter and then the daughter’s baby.

I got stopped one night on a home confinement by a policeman. It was the middle of the night. I was going along Cromwell Road, I wanted Blinco Road and I always got Allen Road and Blinco Road mixed up and I slowed down to look at the name. This policeman had followed me from the Lightstrung and as soon as I slowed down and hesitated put his light on. I tried to tell him that I was going to deliver a baby and I really needed to get on. He sort of believed me but followed me to the house. I’ve been stopped a few times. We didn’t have anything on the car to say who we were and so until they stopped me and looked in the car they didn’t know who they were talking too.

 I delivered a baby out in Yelden in a caravan with no running water and a wood burning stove for heating. It was September at the time so it wasn’t too cold. It was the days of the hippies, this couple were real hippies. They had one baby called Sum and she was having another and I was on duty that night. It was a very small caravan, they had a chemical toilet in another trailer outside and water stacked up in barrels outside. They were a very nice couple. The only problem was I had to kneel on the floor in a very small area to deliver her and my bottom was getting nearer and nearer to the wood burning stove. I could feel it getting hotter and she was just in the process of being about to deliver but I just had to get on with it, I really did think I was going to get a scorched bottom.  When I had finished they gave me two pots of blackberry jam, it was delicious.

Babies that are born too quick, I went to one that really surprised me. We had been called by the ambulance crew because they always have to have a midwife to deliver the afterbirth. I drew up the injection and put it in her leg but as I started to deliver the placenta I realised there was no baby on the end of the cord.  This was a really unusual you always had a baby attached to the placenta as no-one would ever cut a cord.  I asked Dad to bring the baby. The cord had been pulled out of the umbilicus as he had been born. I had visions of when I opened the towel that he had been wrapped in that he would have bled to death but there wasn’t a drop.  Because it had been pulled out forcefully the blood vessels just shut down and the baby had the neatest umbilicus you would ever see. I couldn’t believe that this had happened. But what I’ve learned from breeding and delivering dogs is that if you tear the cord of a puppy the blood vessels collapse and if you cut it you get bleeding.

It was February 1976. In those days the winters were always awful, driving through thick snow, icy weather.  You got used to it everyone was just so kind if you got stuck, we were always pushing each other out of it. We always had to go to the estates where the babies were. This particular day, Friday 16th February it started to snow in the morning and kept on and on. This was before the A45 was opened, so the Rushden to Wellingborough Road was just the ordinary single carriageway. One of our girls decided that she was going to go into labour, her second baby, she was booked to go to Kettering. Her husband had phoned the police, he had said you wouldn’t get through to the Isebrook and you wouldn’t get through to Kettering. The road was blocked because of the lorries that had jack-knifed and were stuck. So we had to deliver this baby at home. In those days we always carried everything that you would need for a home delivery; delivery packs, gas and air cylinders and pethedin injections. The doctor had to be involved as well, luckily it was Dr. Peter Trenchard because he, out of all our doctors, was very happy with home confinements. I lived at the time on the corner of Tollbar, so I was standing there waiting for him to pick me up. He had a Land Rover and he could get through the snow.

This poor husband opened the door and he was as white as a sheet. He said. 'I’ve boiled the kettle', so I said 'Great I’ll have a cup of coffee and I think Dr. Trenchard drinks tea'. So I went up to see her and there she was obviously in labour waiting to have this baby. Dr. Trenchard went away because he was the doctor on call and left me to it and I would call him when things hotted up, call him when necessary. She’d had a big baby the first time and so she was due to go to Kettering. We weren’t going anywhere so we just had to get on with it. We delivered this baby and I had a job to pick him up, he weighed eleven pounds four and a half ounces. Poor girl, it was a hard struggle for her.

By then it was about six o’clock in the morning, we packed up and Dr. Trenchard said he had to see someone in Irchester who thought he had broken his wrist. We thought we might get through as it had stopped snowing by this time, so we piled everything into his Land Rover. Went down to Irchester, we had to go down Station Road between the houses and the trees on the left because the road was stuck with cars. This chap was somewhere near the Working Men’s Club. We went up Chester Lodge way to get to the main road as we got to the top it was deep snow, just white everywhere, and you couldn’t see ahead. He said. 'I don’t know where the road is I think the road’s here but I don’t know how deep it is but we’ll keep going'. We kept going and somehow we managed to get through. I had visions of being in the paper, being found dead in the snow, with headlines “Midwife found with Doctor in the snow.” On the way home we picked up a few people who were walking to work in Rushden.


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