Midwife set to take it easy after 40 busy years

144823a'Midwife Doreen McKeown who is hanging up her uniform after 40 years of midwifery'Picture by Neil Silk'27/11/14
144823a'Midwife Doreen McKeown who is hanging up her uniform after 40 years of midwifery'Picture by Neil Silk'27/11/14
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A Scarborough woman has retired after 40 eventful years as a midwife - both in this country and abroad.

Doreen McKeown, of Sandybed, finished her last shift at Scarborough Hospital on Saturday morning and says working in the profession has been a “privilege”.

She added: “I’ve always enjoyed my career. It’s great to be with people at such a happy time in their lives.

“I often bump into new mums in town and say hello. You see their children growing up, which is very special.”

Doreen, 63, trained as a general nurse at first, then competed her midwifery training at the Jessop Hospital in Sheffield.

Her husband Russell had just graduated with a degree in metallurgy and the pair decided to go and work in Zambia.

They travelled over in October 1974 and stayed for 12 years, with Russell working for the copper mines and Doreen working in a community clinic.

She said: “It was incredible, a very special time. We had some hairy moments though - I was kidnapped, shot at and thrown out of a car.

“And in 1976 I was flying home on my own and unbeknown to me we were bombed when we were taking off by Mugabe’s guerrillas.

“I was definitely near the end of my nine lives!”

Doreen explained that the unrest in Zimbabwe at the time sometimes crossed over into Zambia, with more chance of being caught up if you travelled in the area.

But despite the troubles, Doreen looks back at her time in Africa as “the best job ever”, adding: “It was super - I got a lot of satisfaction from doing it.”

On returning to the UK, the couple worked in Sheffield, Penrith and Chorley, Lancashire, before moving to Malton, then Scarborough.

Doreen said she is looking forward to spending more time travelling, walking and birdwatching, but added that she will miss her job and the other midwives. She said: “They’re a really supportive team.”

However, she is looking forward to having Christmas off for the first time in years.