AFTER the controversial decision to close Trowbridge’s birthing centre, proud parents Chris and Emma Roxburgh found themselves holding the last baby to be born there.

Their son George was the last to be born at Trowbridge Hospital, ending over 100 years of history.

He was born on May 31, weighing in at 7lb 11oz. Emma, who lives in Staverton, said: “I was a week overdue and gave birth to George at 16 minutes past midnight. My labour was really quick, only three and a half hours.”

Emma is the only daughter of Trowbridge town crier Trevor Heeks and his wife Lilian. She is a teacher at Castle Mead Primary School in Trowbridge. Husband Chris is a paramedic practitioner at the town’s Roundstone Surgery in Polebarn Road.

George is their second child – elder brother Charles, four, was the Wiltshire Times’ Baby of the Week when he was born in June 2016.

Mrs Roxburgh said: “He is being the proudbig brother at the moment.”We are very happy with the new addition to the family. He is sleeping a lot of time, which is good for a new born.”

George was born only 45 minutes after the Roxburgh’s arrived at the hospital and the couple left at 5.30am.

Mrs Roxburgh said: “My mum stayed with Charles while George was being born.

“Everything was fine. I had a water birth, which is what I wanted. It was very chilled and relaxed.”

Emma had nothing but praise for the midwifery team in Trowbridge, particularly her midwife Cathy Charles.

Mrs Charles, 58, from Etchilhampton, said: “I delivered my first baby at Trowbridge when I was a student in 1989 and now I have delivered the last baby to be born there.

“They were a delightful couple and it was a beautiful water birth. It was very sad and very strange to be the last birth there. I had very mixed feelings. It is such a lovely place.”

Campaigner Andy Milroy from Trowbridge said: “It’s absolute madness. They have closed Trowbridge birthing centre before building the new Alongside Maternity Unit at the RUH in Bath. Logically, it doesn’t make sense. You don’t get rid of the old centre before you replace it with a new one.”

“The closure of the Trowbridge birthing centre is now putting more pressure on the birthing centre in Chippenham.”

There were 1,049 babies born in Trowbridge between June 2015, when the RUH Trust in Bath took over running the maternity service, and May 31. The closure has been blamed on the falling number of mums choosing to use the unit.

Plans to close centres at Trowbridge and Paulton in Somerset were announced in 2017 and immediately supporters launched a campaign to save them.

A consultation between November 2018 and February 2019 resulted in a far bigger response than expected. 1,855 residents responded and 1,200 people (62 per cent) disagreed or strongly disagreed with the closures.

But Bath, Somerset and Wiltshire NHS Clinical Commissioning Group’s governing body took a final decision on January 16 this year to close the birthing centres by the end of April, although coronavirus meant a delay until the start of June.

A CCG spokesman said: “However, due to coronavirus, the original closure date was postponed by a month to the beginning of June. This decision was made by the Governing Body at the end of April.”

Four community antenatal and postnatal beds at Chippenham are to be phased out but the birthing centres at Chippenham and at Frome remain open.

The CCG plans to open new community hubs to give support for women who wish to give birth at home or who are having difficulty breastfeeding their new baby.

Those experiencing difficulties in pregnancy are being encouraged to go to larger hospitals in Bath, Salisbury and Swindon which have better facilities.

Health managers said they had spent three years working with thousands of mothers andexploring options but too few babies were being born at the centres.

Some midwives are now be relocated to new units at Bath’s Royal United Hospital in amove that the NHS hopes will reorganise resources more effectively.

The maternity section has had severaldifferent names, but always occupied the same wing of the building, with a reputation for excellence – it held a UNICEF Baby Friendly award for its success in encouraging mothers to breastfeed.

Since 2009 it has been run as a birthing centre,with deliveries only, after the last 11-bed maternity ward was closed. Now, only the ante-natal clinic remains, with mums facing a journey in labour to Chippenham, Bath or Frome.