A statue of a pregnant woman first moved from a hospital ward nearly 50 years ago has been returned – thanks to the dedication of local campaigners and staff.
The sculpture, created by artist Eddie Hawking of his wife Audrey, was last in the delivery unit at the University Hospital of North Tees in 1974.
Since then, it has been in storage in 97-year-old Eddie’s home – that is, until a collaboration formed between a statue group, a local charity and staff at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.
Together, they organised to have the statue transported more than 250 miles from Bristol, then repaired and repainted.
It has now been delivered to the hospital’s women’s outpatients department waiting area – where it stands in a glass casing with lighting and a plaque.
At an unveiling event this week, the person in ‘the bump’, 67-year-old Andy Hawking, said he was “emotional” to see it back in situ in the unit.
He said at the event: “That’s me, that little bump in there – I am quite emotional actually seeing it there.
“My dad was a prolific sculptor – he worked at the local college at that time and the sculpture was eventually placed in the hospital delivery unit. That is, until it was sadly removed soon after, following a petition.
“I am proud as punch, I think it’s marvellous. Mum and dad will be knocked out to see it now.
“We are all so pleased.”
Andy’s brother, Chris, 71, who was also at the event, added: “It takes you back – my mum is quite frail now and she is 95 and my dad looks after her. But it takes you back to how she was, she was a strong woman as the sculpture shows.
“My dad is so pleased about it and it gives him so much pride.”
Also at the event was Shaun Campbell, founder of the Arthur Wharton Foundation charity in Darlington.
He said: ““I read this story online from the North East Statues organisation – about this wonderful sculpture being removed from here.
“I got in touch with them and said I was happy to pick this up, I contacted the Trust who said they were happy to help.
“I then spoke to Eddie, I wanted to do the right thing. We then received it at the foundation, I then rebuilt aspects of it myself, then I asked a friend called Dan Walls from Illuminations Art to spray it for me, updating its colour.
“I am thrilled it has finally arrived here.”
Among members of the maternity team at the event was Jayne Ross, former receptionist in the department.
She said: “I have recently left the department – but when I was here I was constantly asking about Audrey – we are so happy she has made it back here.
“When I heard about the story I had a bit of a cry. I thought it was a very romantic story.
“I love her – I now work in another maternity department but I make any excuse to come back to see her.
“To see the sons here today is amazing.”