A “passionate” midwife and pioneering matron who “worked all hours God sends” is retiring after more than three decades at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust – on her 55th birthday.
Carol Hollington, currently a core midwife in the Antenatal Clinic, was given a hearty and emotional send-off from colleagues in Maternity after 32 years in a variety of roles at Walsall Manor Hospital.
Carol, who lives in Bilston, trained as a nurse at Wolverhampton’s New Cross Hospital in 1985 and moved to Walsall in 1990, completing her midwifery training.
Based at the Manor, Carol was appointed the Trust’s first governance midwife in Maternity and was also governance matron before returning to clinical practice/role in 2013, where she became maternity inpatient matron for seven years, responsible for around 150 staff.
Change often leads to a period of reflection, and the triple loss of her sister Susan at the age of 55, mother Judy at 78 and father-in-law Joe at 79 – as well as her husband being diagnosed with sepsis – all in the space of 18 months during the COVID-19 pandemic saw Carol opt to swap senior management to return to being a midwife.
“I have had a fantastic career, took the opportunities I have had, enjoyed networking and made some great friends,” said Carol. “But I have reached a stage where I want to get a better work-life balance and enjoy my life more, now my children are older.”
Reflecting on her career, Carol feels pride at the development not just of staff, but of the decisions she’s made or shared that have had a positive impact on those around her, as well as the mothers of Walsall.
“One of the things that makes me feel proud and privileged is to see doctors, midwives and healthcare assistants develop from when they were students, to one day running a service,” she said.
“I’ve seen junior doctors who are now consultants here and seeing how we nurture people makes me feel very proud. The NHS is a fantastic place to do that but you have to be willing to put the work in.
“I’m also very proud to have looked after the women of Walsall, not only delivering care but being able to influence change. We have made small changes to have made big differences in improving pathways.
“An example is changing to BadgerNet from hand held notes, which means women’s notes are available whether they have their baby in Walsall or another NHS Trust.
“It’s been a varied career and it’s not always been easy; it’s been hard work but I have thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Antenatal Clinic Manager Donna Perkins said: “Carol is one of the most passionate midwives I know, whose ethos and commitment is women-centred care through and through.
“She’s been pivotal in lots of service developments, improvements and initiatives and her contribution to maternity care and the women of Walsall cannot be underestimated.
“Carol is an example of advocacy for both women and her colleagues, and as part of the senior maternity team for such a long time, Carol built lots of excellent relationships with her peers, which will continue.
“There are far too many memories for everyone in this maternity unit where Carol is concerned, so today I would like to wish her a very happy birthday first and foremost but mark her official date of retirement.”
Matron for Community, Midwifery Led Unit (MLU) and Outpatients Maternity, Laura Parsons has worked with Carol for 12 years. She said: “I remember being a student when Carol was governance midwife. She’s always been very supportive and always got women at the centre of the care.
“She’s worked every hour God sends to do the best for the patients and staff.”
Carol won’t be lost to the Trust for long – she’s returning in the same role next month, but working three days a week.
Mother of two Carol, whose children Nathan and Niamh are 22 and 18, wants to spend more time travelling abroad with Carl, her husband of 24 years who is also going to semi-retire, from his career as an HGV driver.
While Carol enjoys socialising with her friends, she loves to walk and seek out new adventures and places to visit, and plans to join her many retired colleagues with regular walks on Cannock Chase.
Happy retirement Carol!