We had a marvellous Reunion this year enhanced in the main by our guest speaker Dame Lorna Muirhead , Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside . What charisma that lady has! From the very beginning of her talk she endeared us to her by referring to herself “as like the posh one on the bike, called Chummy” in Call the Midwife. She came to Liverpool for an initial term of two years when she had qualified as a midwife, accompanied by the tall ,dark ,handsome Scot who is her husband Ronald. Usually, our speakers talk for about 20 minutes but after 50 minutes we were still wanting her to carry on and many of us were crying with laughter.
Dame Lorna has that enviable quality of being able to capture her audience and inform as well as entertain. As President of the Royal College of Midwifes she told how she was able to cope with the sometimes patronising attitudes regarding her opinions by telling the gentlemen concerned that she was still a practising midwife and therefore right up to date with current practice. She still is a great ambassador for nursing and had some acute and balanced observations as to the current state of the NHS.
Dame Lorna has no hesitation in placing herself in the centre of the joke; we howled at the account of her going first class ,with tokens saved from cereal packets, on the train to London, meeting at a large reception with Prince Charles, lunch at Fortnum and Masons with the President of the Royal College of Nurses and meeting up with the tall, dark, handsome Scot at Euston to return home in First Class Style ,only to visit the lavatory and discover she had been wearing her dress on inside out all day – with the size and label showing. It was some time before the laughter stopped and she was able to resume.
Dame Lorna has entertained the Queen four times during her tenure and the best story was regarding the Queens request to go round the docks on ‘the Duck’ ,an amphibious landing craft used as a tourist attraction in Liverpool. The craft sank -but fortunately a week after Her Majesty’s visit. When next meeting the Queen Her Majesty introduced her to the assembled company as the person who had tried to drown her!
She spoke of her huge affection for Merseyside since she first came to live here and work at the Maternity Hospital. She was honoured to accept the Lord Lieutenants position and do her best to serve our community. The role entails a very full diary of diverse appointments and Dame Lorna spoke of how much she has learned about the human spirit and how people cope with adversity and the many challenges in life. She retires from her role next year and cannot imagine how she will cope after such a busy and interesting time. I feel that a person of her calibre will never be allowed to retire from public service and there will be a queue at her door to enlist her support for many organisations and projects. We all wish her well in continuing to provide much needed common sense, information and balance to the committees that make decisions on our behalf.
Thank you so much, Dame Lorna, for making our reunion unforgettable.