St Kitts midwife featured in Leeds city museum

Gloria Hanley

LONDON, England – Leeds City Museum in England, is featuring St Kitts-born midwife who used humour to overcome racism and highlights how migrants helped shape that English city.

Gloria Hanley left St Kitts aged 18 in 1968, seizing upon a chance to train in England as a nurse. She arrived in Leeds in the 1970s where she worked as a NHS midwife, delivering hundreds of babies.

Her journey is one of dozens being told at an exhibition at Leeds City Museum -Titled ‘A City and its Welcome; is highlighting three centuries of migrants who make a new life for themselves.

Among the exhibits are family heirlooms and photographs loaned by members of the Jewish, Irish, Muslim and Sikh communities. Illustrating Hanley’s story are her midwifery bag, ID badge and the hat she used to wear.

Now aged 71 and retired, Hanley recalls her early experiences in the city she now considers home.

“Love brought me to Leeds but when I first arrived, I wasn’t impressed at all but then I soon got acclimatised,” she said. “I’d come up from London where I’d been training and what struck me about Leeds was how integrated it was.

“In London, you didn’t see a lot of black and white people together,” she recalled, “But here, I remember going to a party and thinking ‘wow, white people are here’.” She added, “I’ve always treated racism with humour and managed to break down barriers every time. My main aim was always to get into the house and care for the mother and baby.”

Other items on display include a collection of toy houses brought to Leeds by Eva Mitchell from former Czechoslovakia in 1938. Curator Ruth Martin said: “Migration is core to the story of Leeds.

“The city wouldn’t be the same unique place it is today without the knowledge, individuality and heritage they brought with them.”