As thousands of runners’ feet pounded the roads in the Asics Greater Manchester Marathon on 10 April, an expectant mum was desperately trying to find a way through the resulting traffic.
Claire Burke had gone into labour.
She had been driving to her mum’s for breakfast with her eight-year-old daughter Mia when she’d started to feel the contractions.
“At first I thought they were Braxton Hicks (false labour),” Claire said.
But as she tried to navigate through the road closures and diversions, the contractions grew stronger and stronger. Before long they were coming every minute.
“I knew that it was only a matter of time before the baby would be ready to pop out and I really started to panic.”
Claire began to fear giving birth in the car. She pulled over to ask a marshal for help. Luckily within moments a British Red Cross ambulance pulled up behind her.
Red Cross volunteers to the rescue
Driving the ambulance were Red Cross volunteers Nigel Clark and Stuart Morris.
They were among 150 Red Cross staff and volunteers working at the Manchester Marathon that day to provide first aid support for the event.
The marshal talking to Claire flagged them down.
“When we first met Claire she was in some pain but a lot of what we did was calm her down,” Nigel said.
The HGV driver, who volunteers for the Red Cross as a trainer and ambulance crew, assessed Claire and realised birth was imminent.
He helped Claire and Mia into the back of the ambulance before moving Claire’s car to a safe place so as not to block traffic or incur a parking ticket.
Then they were off.
To the hospital
With Stuart behind the wheel, the ambulance put on its sirens and headed to St Mary’s Hospital in central Manchester.
“Because of the situation, we drove Claire in on ‘blues and twos’,” Stuart said.
Upon arrival the Red Cross volunteers stayed with Claire and Mia until nurses arrived to look after them.
Just one hour later, baby Tori was born.
But Nigel and Stuart didn’t get to meet her. They had already left to return to duty and were helping casualties in a road traffic accident they encountered on the way back.
Claire wanted to say thank you face-to-face. She launched an appeal through the Manchester Evening News to track them down.
Within days Claire found the men she’d been looking for and invited them to her home to meet baby Tori.
Nigel and Stuart arrived bringing flowers for Claire and toys for Mia and baby Tori. Everyone was pleased to see each other again.
“It was lovely to see Claire and the baby was absolutely gorgeous,” Nigel said,
“Normally we never find out how people get on after we treat them.”
Reflecting on the day of Tori’s birth, Claire said:
“When the Red Cross ambulance pulled up behind me I just couldn’t believe it – it was so lucky.”
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