Tributes to Blitz hero midwife who delivered hundreds of Chesterfield babies

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A Chesterfield midwife who delivered hundreds of babies during her career and was an unsung hero during the Blitz has died aged 94.

Joan Durrant volunteered to go to London to help wounded civilians and service personnel during the devastating German air raids on the capital.

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Joan, widow of the late Chesterfield pharmacist Hector Durrant and the last survivor of five Chesterfield sisters, went south as Operation Pied Piper, which saw hundreds of thousands of children and vulnerable adults evacuated by train to the safer ‘shire counties’, including her home county of Derbyshire.

During one raid Joan was with a patient who was too ill to be moved to an air raid shelter. She was sitting on the hospital window sill when the siren went off. A matron ordered her to shelter under a nearby bed. When the attack ended Joan found a chunk of shrapnel sticking out of the wood exactly where she had been sitting - the matron had saved her life.

Joan, who died peacefully in Chesterfield Royal Hospital, worked for many years as nurse and midwife and latterly with her husband at HM Durrant Chemist Ltd, the pharmacy he founded on Chatsworth Road, Brampton.

Joan leaves three children, Richard, Ann and Ruth, six grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. She was the last surviving of five Brailsford sisters - Iris, Sybil, Mary and Avis and Joan, who were brought up in Chesterfield.

Daughter Ruth said: “Because of her strong empathy with those she met, many called her a ‘second mum.’ She was renowned for her hard-work, a smile which lit up rooms and hospital wards and for compassion and dedication to duty.”

A funeral service will be held at St Peter and St Paul’s, in Old Brampton, at noon on Wednesday, November 28th.