TV and Radio

Radio review: Stories of new life and coming to terms with loss

Breedagh Hughes, who is leaving her post as director of the Royal College of Midwives, reflected on her career on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour. Picture by Hugh Russell

Woman's Hour - Radio 4

Book at Bedtime: Travelling in a Strange Land - Radio 4

BREEDAGH Hughes is retiring as director of the Royal College of Midwives after 21 years at the helm.

On Woman's Hour she looked back at the highs and lows of that time - what makes her proud about midwivery in Northern Ireland and the four-hour interview under caution in a police station followed by an eight-month wait before the Public Prosecution Service decided not to proceed with a case against her.

Hughes became a midwife after her first son was born - she saw the women coming into work with a smile and leaving with a smile and decided this was for her.

Her role as director of the RCM made her a critical friend, looking in from the outside, asking questions, she said.

She is well-known for her opposition to the abortion ban in Northern Ireland.

It's one of the top killers of women in the world and making it illegal doesn't stop it and pushes it underground, she argued.

The idea of women ordering abortion pills online and taking them without medical supervision fills her with horror - "It's a back street abortion using chemicals instead of coat hangers."

She has been trolled for her views but pointed out: "I'm not the murdering midwife the internet would have you believe."

This was a wide ranging and engaging interview.

Hughes now heads off to another phase of life - in Spain where she'll finish a PhD, cycle and learn Spanish.

If you've never read David Park's books, then you're in for such a treat.

He writes beautifully, his stories are spellbinding, rooted in what binds and sunders families - love and loss.

The fact that he is from Northern Ireland and that seeps into his writing in so many ways just adds to the joy.

His latest novel, Travelling in a Strange Land, was Radio 4's Book at Bedtime this week. It is the story of a father coming to terms with the loss of a son.

Listen, it's beautiful.

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