Express delivery prompts Christmas appeal
National Express Coach Station Manager Charlie Hatcher and TfL Site Controller Rashid Hassan-Attah
National Express and Transport for London are launching an appeal to trace the family of a baby born in Victoria Coach Station - because kind-hearted staff hope to give the newborn a Christmas present.
The UK’s largest coach company and Transport for London, which operates London Victoria Coach Station, are joining forces in a bid to track down the little girl’s family just in time for her first Christmas.
Coach station staff, who are more used to giving directions and handling baggage, assisted in the incredible unexpected delivery of the newborn baby girl at the busiest coach station in Europe in August this year.
While Victoria Coach Station welcomes over nine million coach arrivals every year, it is believed this is the first time a baby has been born in the 85 year history of the art deco landmark.
Touchingly, the little girl’s parents gave her the middle name Victoria in tribute to the incredible efforts by staff – and even invited them to give a speech at her christening. However, staff who only have one mobile number for the family, have been unable to get in touch in recent weeks and are keen to make contact in time for baby’s first Christmas.
Events unfolded on Monday, 3 August just before tea-time, when station staff became aware that a heavily pregnant woman who had just waved a friend goodbye on a coach was in clear need of medical attention.
The quick-thinking team immediately took charge of the situation, co-ordinating their efforts to best assist the lady. Emergency services were called and nearby community police officers intercepted to lend a hand while female staff were radioed down to attend to the lady.
Meanwhile, as it became increasingly obvious time was of the essence, a discreet first aid area was cordoned off in anticipation of the ambulance, with staff working as a team to ensure her privacy.
Happily, a baby girl was safely delivered within just minutes of the arrival of paramedics. With no time to spare to get the mother into an ambulance the baby was delivered directly outside National Express’ office on the main forecourt. In total, the whole event lasted just twenty minutes and coach station staff had the honour of telephoning the father to tell him the happy news at the mother’s request.
They are eager to reconnect with the family of the little girl, who will now be four months old, and pass on a Christmas present – including honorary coach travel with National Express. It is believed the father’s name is Mr Olatunde, although it is unclear if the spelling is correct.
TfL site controller Rashid Hassan-Attah was managing TfL’s operations on 3 August and recalled the unforgettable day.
He said: “We were co-ordinating support for a heavily pregnant lady when all of a sudden I heard an almighty scream all the way from my control room on the first floor. Being a father of three myself the sound was unmistakable and I knew she was very close to giving birth. I immediately threw on my high-viz and ran downstairs – the adrenalin was pumping but my first though was to assist the lady. We quickly erected a screen up for her and worked to stop any other passengers seeing what was going on. The efforts of all the staff were absolutely incredible. Before long, paramedics were on site and it was just minutes later the baby’s scream rang out – it was the most joyous sound. I’ve worked at Victoria Coach Station for 25 years and you think you’ve seen it all but then something like this happens – it’s just incredible. We had the pleasure of meeting the baby, who her parents have given the middle name Victoria and she is absolutely beautiful so we do hope we are able to hand over a Christmas gift.”
National Express Coach Station Manager Charlie Hatcher said: “It’s safe to say our staff pride themselves on delivering a great service but helping with the delivery of a baby was a new one on us. 3 August was definitely one of the more memorable days at work - we’re always talking about it and would love to hear how the little girl is getting on. We’re all really in the swing of the festive season here and it got us to thinking it will be the baby’s first Christmas and it would be a lovely gesture to see if we can reconnect with the family to pass on a gift to the little girl. We’re really hoping the power of the media can help us find them.”