Obituary: Wendy helped change Suffolk's antenatal and postnatal care

Two pictures of Wendy Harwood

Wendy Harwood who dedicated her life to revolutionising antenatal and postnatal care in Suffolk has died aged 89. - Credit: Supplied by family

Wendy Harwood, who dedicated her life to revolutionising antenatal and postnatal care in Suffolk, has died aged 89.

Wendy, who helped set up the Suffolk branch of the National Childbirth Trust, leaves behind four children, ten grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Born on May 10, 1933 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wendy came to England at 16 years old to complete her education at Critchel School in Dorset.

Through socials and classes held between Critchel and nearby boarding school Bryanston, 17-year-old Wendy fell in love with her soon-to-be husband Richard Harwood.

A black and white photo of Wendy Harwood and her son.

Wendy and Richard Harwood met while still at school in Dorset and went on to marry and have five children together. - Credit: Supplied by family

They married in his final term at Cambridge and went on to have five children together, moving hospital following each birth in search of a better obstetrician.

Wendy's daughter Cressida Ross said her mother's experience of childbirth in the 1950s and 60s inspired her to seek a preferable alternative for women and their husbands.

Having attended the inaugural meeting of the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) organised by Dr. Grantly Dick-Read in 1956, Wendy became instrumental in setting up the Suffolk branch of the NCT.

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She was an ante-natal teacher for many years, providing classes and post-natal support from Hadleigh Town Hall, an Ipswich home and, by the time it had become established, the YMCA in Norwich Road.

Wendy Harwood posing for the camera

Wendy Harwood was an ante-natal teacher for many years, providing classes and post-natal support to countless numbers of women in Suffolk. - Credit: Supplied by family

She was joined by a group of volunteers who attended training courses at the headquarters of the NCT in London - in turn, they sent people to Ipswich to observe classes and give lectures on various subjects.

Wendy also pioneered a class for fathers with the idea that they would be with their wives in labour to support them. 

Though the idea of educating women on childbirth was not popular with large sections of the medical profession in the 1960s and 70s, Wendy helped to revolutionise the way in which pregnant women and mothers were treated in Suffolk.

Later on, she continued her support of these women by qualifying as a midwife.

Wendy smiling at the camera while sitting at a family dinner.

Wendy and her husband Richard restored many beautiful homes in Suffolk together. - Credit: Supplied by family

Aside from her efforts with the NCT, Wendy and her husband Richard restored many beautiful houses in Suffolk together, including The Grange in Chelmondiston, Tattingstone Place, Bentley Hall, Longlands, the family farm at Washbrook and finally the Granary in Layham.

Wendy's memorial event will be held at Abbey Hall in Eye on Monday, June 6.