Memorial service for Bramley Meade midwife Carla

Carla Gazzola. (s)
Carla Gazzola. (s)

A MEMORIAL service for a much loved midwife who helped hundreds of Ribble Valley mothers during the birth of their babies will be held later this month.

Carla Gazzola, a senior midwife at Bramley Meade maternity home at Whalley, died this June in Italy aged 80.

Her long standing friend and work colleague Whalley’s Sheena Byrom OBE, who is the author of Catching Babies – the best selling autobiographical account of her career in midwifery – has organised a memorial service for Carla. It will be held on Monday November 19th at St Mary’s RC Church at Langho at 7 p.m. with refreshments afterwards in the church hall.

“We would like all the mothers and babies she cared for to know about her memorial service and would love them to join us,” explained Sheena. “People will remember her, even mums who had babies in the Sixties and Seventies, as she was quite distinctive. She was on night duty full-time when she worked at Bramley Meade and was the senior midwife in charge. Because she was Italian, very quietly spoken and gentle, and very kind to everyone, I’m sure a lot of people will remember her.”

Sheena dedicated Catching Babies to Carla and others and also mentions Carla in the book, which Sheena is very happy Carla was able to read before she died.

Born near Milan, in 1952 Carla travelled to England to work as a nanny to the children of a doctor who lived near Manchester. At that time, Carla did not speak English, but she went on to move down south to train as a nurse before going on to train as a midwife. She started work at Bramley Meade in the late Sixties and her role was on a “live-in” basis. She retired shortly after the maternity home closed in 1990.

“Carla was always lovely with babies and children,” Sheena recalled. “She was like a mother to all the mums and she treated them all like a queen.”

Carla became very close to Sheena’s family after she delivered two of Sheena’s children. She subsequently became godmother to one and visited Sheena’s house on a regular basis.

Sheena, who also worked alongside Carla for several years, added: “She was like another mum to me and we were the nearest thing she had to a family as she didn’t have any children.”

Both Sheena and Carla visited each other after Carla’s retirement with Sheena travelling to Italy and Carla travelling back to England for the wedding of one of Sheena’s nieces.

Anyone who has fond memories of Carla is very welcome to attend the memorial service.