Family and friends have bid farewell to a former Southlands Hospital midwife who helped deliver thousands of babies over a 47-year career.
Well-wishers gathered for the funeral of Audrey Jean Upton last Wednesday, who passed away on October 29 at the age of 84.
After beginning her career at the Shoreham hospital in 1952 as a trainee nurse, she qualified as a midwife in 1957 and helped usher in generations of new Adur and Worthing residents.
Delivering the eulogy at the service, her grandson George Upton described Audrey as independent right up to her passing.
“Audrey’s death was a great shock for everyone, but it was at least fitting for a fiercely independent woman who hated any messing about – none of the nonsense of a long, protracted illness,” he said.
“The name Audrey comes from Anglo-Saxon words for strength and nobility. She will be remembered for living up to those ideals, quietly, with love, and without fuss.”
Born in 1934 in Llanymynech, Wales, Audrey was raised in Lewes by her parents William and Ethel.
After completing her training in 1957, she married her fiancé Peter the following year and soon moved to their home in Hammy Way in Shoreham. She would live there for the rest of her life.
The couple had two children, Ian and Julia, and four grandchildren – George, Tom, Sophie and Robert.
After Ian and Julia reached school age, Audrey returned to the hospital as a part-time ward midwife, later taking charge of antenatal clinics as far west as Littlehampton, which would grow to include a family planning clinic.
She also became involved in IVF, working with many top London consultants including Professor Robert Winston, of the Child of Our Time documentary series.
Audrey’s last six years as a consultant midwife at Southlands were as the screening coordinator, responsible for detecting and advising on abnormalities, miscarriages and stillbirths.
George’s eulogy said Audrey would stay in touch with many of the mothers she had treated, her popularity making a trip to the shops a ‘feat of endurance’ for her grandchildren as she stopped to greet old faces.
Her retirement in 1999 was covered by the Herald at the time, when she said she was ‘looking forward to some time to relax’.