Having a baby in the days before the NHS was an expensive business if you had to go to hospital – which is why more than half the children born before 1948 were delivered at home, often by midwives employed by a local authority or nursing association.
Typically, the price of a home delivery was one shilling and sixpence (the equivalent of seven-and-a-half pence today).
So, it was good news for the parents of Marcia Roper that she was one of the first babies to be born in hospital at Blackpool the day the NHS was founded in July 1948. She was born at 3.30am and spent eight or nine days in hospital.
A notice in the Blackpool Evening Gazette a few days later read: “On July 5 at Glenroyd, to Dorothy and Maurice Flavell, 36, Dutton Road, God’s gift of a daughter, Marcia. Both well.”
“The NHS meant a lot to my mum and dad,” said Marcia, from Poulton-le-Fylde. “It would have cost £9 to have a baby in hospital. I can’t remember if mum said I was early or late but the midwife would tell her to hang on for the NHS!”
Marcia became a teacher and taught at Layton Primary School, Blackpool. She resumed her career after taking a break to bring up a family, later teaching and becoming headteacher at Weeton St Michael’s primary school, near Blackpool. She was also Justice of the Peace in the town for 26 years.
Her husband Geoffrey is a former chair of Lancashire County Council, served as county councillor for Poulton for nearly 30 years and on Wyre Borough Council for 17 years. Marcia says she was “privileged and honoured” to be Mayoress of Wyre and the county’s Chairman’s Lady.
Marcia said: “We are very fortunate to have the NHS. It is a wonderful thing.”