‘My dad was the first baby born under the NHS in Cardiff’
Just six minutes after midnight on July 5, 1948, Peter Woolston was born at St David’s Hospital in Cardiff weighing a healthy 9lb 8oz.
While his delivery into the world was reasonably straightforward and quite unremarkable for the midwives on duty, the timing of it was not.
As unbeknown to him, little Peter was the first baby to be born in the Welsh capital under the newly-created National Health Service.
By holding out for a few minutes longer, the child had saved his mother, Margaret Woolston, from having to pay one the shilling and sixpence charge for the birth.
Speaking to the Western Mail in 1988, on Peter’s 40th birthday, Margaret said: “Because Peter was born after midnight when the NHS had come in, I did not have to pay for the birth.
“Everybody paid or was in a club, or had to make other arrangements. The NHS took a lot of the worry away.”
Peter, who grew up in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, was a keen rugby player but following a serious leg break took up refereeing and went on to coach several school teams.
“He really enjoyed working with children,” recalled his son Simon Woolston, 45. “My mother was a teacher so he would be asked to pop into school to help out.
“He then started on the road to becoming a teacher and qualified as a teaching assistant, spending most of his career at Herbert Thompson Primary School in Ely.
“He had three sons so he got involved in every sporting activity we did, from football to rugby to tennis to baseball. That’s what he loved to do.”
Like the NHS, Wednesday would have been Peter’s 75th birthday, but sadly after a short battle with oesophageal cancer he passed away in January last year.
Commenting on the NHS’ landmark anniversary, son Simon added: “You can’t put a price on the NHS. It’s a fantastic service from cradle to grave.
“My children were all born in the Heath, and on one occasion my wife needed an emergency c-section, so I don’t know where we’d be without the service.
“My wife works for former Health Minister Vaughan Gething so she experienced how pressured the NHS was during the pandemic. People were exasperated, but everyone pulled together and the NHS did an absolutely magnificent job under such unbelievable circumstances.”
Simon said that advancements in wearable technology could help to ease the growing pressures on the health service and allow people to feel more empowered to make decisions about when it’s suitable to seek professional help.
He is now hoping to get a heritage plaque placed at the site of St David’s Hospital in Riverside to recognise his dad as the first Cardiff-born NHS baby.
Simon is also set to take in a special ParkRun to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the NHS on July 8 in Llanishen, Cardiff.
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