New collections: the life of Miriam Hiddy

Nurse and Midwife: Miriam Hiddy

A couple of months ago a personal collection was sent to us in the post. It was sent through by a charity. A past chairman of this charity had recently passed away and his relatives were sorting through his papers. Amongst his own papers this collection was discovered. It appears she was a close friend of his and on her passing away in 1999 there was no one else to keep her belongings. Unable to discard of them himself he had kept them amongst his own things until his own death 19 years later.

I should say that we do not necessarily always take in a collection quite like this. Such a large part of it has no relevance to midwifery and as much as we would like to keep such things, we simply do not have the space to store. However, in this case, the decision was made to keep it and hopefully, in time, use this information to tell the story of an ordinary nurse and midwife who dedicated her life to her profession in full. Some of our best collections are where we can get to know a person and bring more life to someone rather than just know that they delivered babies. A midwife is a real person too.

Miriam Hiddy was born on 15th November 1915 in Barrow in Furness to Albert and Elizabeth Hiddy. The earliest record in the collection is that of her Baptism certificate from 12th January 1916. Her National Registration card of 25 July 1940 puts her at 5ft 1.5in tall.

Early evidence of her interest in health can be seen in a certificate from April 1927 when she would have still be 11 years old was given for writing a report on “Alcohol and the Human Body’.

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In 1932 she received a certificate for a course in Home Nursing by The St John Ambulance Association and there is another certificate by the same for First Aid from 1933.

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She became a qualified nurse in 1937 after completing a three year residence at North Lonsdale Hospital. It was in 1940 that she began training to be a midwife and we have the questions from the first exam. There is also a letter of confirmation that she passed the second exam in 1941 and that her name is to be entered on the Roll of Midwives. There is also a case register from 1942 when she worked at Plaistow Maternity Hospital and District Nurses’ Home. Later she appears to have returned to general nursing.

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In 1968 Miriam was appointed Commandant of the Bedfordshire Branch of the British Red Cross Society. On 27th May 1970 she attended a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace to mark the Centenary of the British Red Cross Society. In later life she was President of Soroptimist International of Luton, a volunteer organisation working towards peace and improving the lives of women.

In 1987 she purchased a burial plot, the certificate to Right of Burial also included amongst the documentation. The final document is the Funeral Service from 9th June 1999.

Miriam was clearly a woman who dedicated her life to the care of others, particularly women and for that her life should be remembered.

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