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Lucy Baldwin

Lucy_Baldwin_2Lucy Baldwin, Countess Baldwin of Bewdley (née Ridsdale; 1869-1945) was a writer and activist for maternity health.
In 1892, she married Stanley Baldwin, who entered parliament as MP for Bewdley in 1908 and served 3 terms as Prime Minister between 1923 and 1937.

Lucy was a committed Christian and was involved in the Young Women’s Christian Association and other charitable bodies for women, especially those concerned to improve maternity care, after having herself suffered difficult pregnancies and the loss of her first child.  Her campaign work in this field was supported by regular resolutions from the National Federation of WIs for the improvement of maternity facilities and regular access to pain relief in childbirth.

In 1928, Mrs Baldwin became vice-chairman of the newly established National Birthday Trust Fund to address the high incidence of maternal mortality. Its original aims were to support maternity hospitals and contribute to the development of midwifery practice. In 1929, she helped found the Anæsthetics Appeal Fund with speeches, broadcasts and fund-raising. She was particularly concerned with reducing the pain of childbirth, and lobbied for new funds to make anaesthesia affordable for low-income women. Her work contributed to the passage of the Midwives Act of 1936.

The Lucy Baldwin Maternity Hospital in Stourport on Severn was opened in her honour on 16 April 1929, following a large donation of funds from the philanthropist, Julien Cahn.  Closed in 2006, the hospital expanded over its lifetime to become a general hospital.  A plaque over the main entrance reads: “What she wanted most in the world. Presented to her by Julien Cahn Esq.”

Lucy Baldwin was invested as a Dame of Grace, Order of Saint John of Jerusalem and a Dame Grand Cross, Order of the British Empire, and styled as Countess Baldwin of Bewdley on 8 June 1937.  She died suddenly in 1945 at Astley Hall, their country home in Worcestershire.  Her cremated remains were interred, with those of her husband, after his death in 1947 in the nave of Worcester Cathedral.

The records of the National Birthday Trust Fund are held at the Wellcome Collection.

Formidable Women of Worcestershire

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