Unexpected arrival in departures leads to Christmas reunion
Peter and Oluwatosin Olatunde, new arrival Victoria, and National Express Coach Station Manager Charlie Hatcher
'Victoria’ is one of the most popular girl’s names in the UK – but for one set of proud parents it holds an extra-special significance.
For doting parents Peter and Oluwatosin Olatunde have named their bundle of joy ‘Victoria’ in tribute to transport workers who assisted with her unexpected birth – right in the middle of Victoria Coach Station.
Now, the baby and her family have been reunited with the staff who helped to deliver her following a joint appeal by National Express and Transport for London.
The reunion comes after the UK’s largest coach company and Transport for London, which operates Victoria Coach Station, joined forces to track down the little girl’s family just in time for her first Christmas - so kind-hearted staff could handover a present.
The remarkable arrival at the busiest coach station in Europe took place on 3 August this year.
While Victoria Coach Station welcomes millions of 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.
Coach station staff, who are more used to giving directions and handling baggage, assisted in her incredible unexpected delivery.
Events unfolded 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, the 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 by a member of staff. In total, the whole event lasted just 20 minutes and coach station staff had the honour of telephoning the father to tell him the happy news at the mother’s request.
Transport for London Customer Service Assistant, Hayley Hudson, was on hand with the mother.
The 51 year old from Biggleswade recalled: “The lady was by gate 11 and it was clear she was in need of medical assistance so I called the ambulance and escorted her to a first aid area where I helped her with her breathing. I didn’t really know what to do – I think I must have watched too many movies but it seemed to be working. Before long, the ambulance arrived and the paramedic began to escort the lady when all of a sudden she dropped to the floor outside. The paramedic had to run back to the ambulance to get the birth pack, leaving me with the mother. I squeezed her hand really tightly and all of a sudden the baby was here and I placed her on her chest. I really couldn’t believe it was happening and was in shock really for a good few days. Now I’m so thrilled to see the family again - we’re staying in touch and I’ve asked for weekly updates so I can watch Victoria grow up.”
Transport for London site controller, Rashid Hassan-Attah, was managing TfL’s operations on the day 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 thought 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.”
Now, baby and her family, who fondly nickname her ‘Queen’, in reference to her grand entrance at the Buckingham Palace Road coach hub, paid station staff a festive visit where they were presented with gifts for the baby, including free coach travel with National Express.
Mum Oluwatosin and dad Peter who live in Greenwich with their toddler son Joshua, who is just about to turn two, recalled the amazing events.
31 year old Oluwatosin recalled: “Joshua was being sent to Gloucester with my sister to give me time to prepare for the birth in three weeks time and I had just waved them off on the National Express coach when all of a sudden I started to feel waves of contractions. I just thought to myself – this just cannot be happening. The coach staff were absolutely amazing though and rushed to help, making sure I was well-looked after until the ambulance arrived, so I knew I had support. However, once the paramedics arrived it became clear the baby wasn’t going to be able to wait any longer and the babe arrived right in the middle of the station with no time to make it inside the ambulance. I was so shocked, I just couldn’t believe it – my first labour took around a day and here was my new baby girl with us in what felt like five minutes. Peter was even more shocked than I was – I asked staff to call him and I could hear them repeating over again ‘she’s been born in Victoria Coach Station!’ It was very funny registering her birth – the lady at the registrar didn’t believe me at first – she thought I meant the place of birth was Westminster - and we had a really good laugh when I told her what happened. It is going to be an amazing story to tell Victoria when she grows up how she came into the world – I just can’t wait.”
Proud father Peter, 42, added: “I was ecstatic when coach station staff phoned up to tell me the happy news – confused at first but very happy. We felt because she was born at the station Victoria was the perfect name because it would be a great story to tell her when she grows up and it is such a landmark. I would like to say a big thank you to all the people at National Express, Transport for London and the paramedics who helped bring her into this world – a baby is the most precious gift a man can get.”
Charlie Hatcher who manages National Express’ operations at Victoria Coach Station said: “We are really thrilled to be able to track down the family just in time for their first Christmas with their new arrival and it is really touching to see she has been named in tribute to the amazing teamwork of our staff with Transport for London. It is wonderful to see the baby doing so well, she is absolutely beautiful and will always be ‘our Victoria’."
The family is now looking forward to their first Christmas with their new arrival.