Baby born in Hayle service station as storm shuts roads
A PREGNANT mother who failed to reach hospital because of the storm chaos ended up giving birth to her baby boy in a Hayle petrol station.
Lee-Anne Keast, 40, went into labour five weeks early on Tuesday, February 4, just as the county was battered by heavy rain and winds of up to 80mph.
She left her home in Long Rock just after 5.30pm but found that fallen trees and power cables had blocked off all the main routes to Truro.
"It was horrendous; traffic was so slow," she said. "With all the trees and cable lines down we couldn't get any speed up. We got a bit lost on the back roads. I didn't have any phone signal for about 20 minutes. We didn't know what to do."
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After the initial panic Lee-Anne and husband Matt flagged down a police car near the Penzance-to- Helston road and explained their situation. The desperate couple were given permission to drive along the road, which was shut to all other vehicles.
Crawling through floodwater, it took the couple more than an hour to get to Hayle, where they rang emergency services to meet them at the Shell garage just off Loggans Moor roundabout.
"The wind was blowing the car something awful. I thought I had about an hour, but it was going over all that debris on the road that was bringing on my contractions quicker and quicker," said Lee-Anne.
The couple were met by a first response paramedic who administered pain relief to Lee-Anne when it was apparent she was in the final stages of labour.
Lee-Anne, who has five other children, was sat in the passenger seat when she gave birth.
"I just put my feet up on the dashboard and he flew out. He came as a shock; we'd only been parked up ten minutes when he arrived.
"It was traumatic for my husband. He went in to pay for petrol and he got back in the driver's seat and said, 'What was that?'"
Paramedic Dave Halford said apart from the weather conditions and the location, the birth had been quite straightforward.
"We tried to keep the passenger side sheltered and covered the mother in a blanket. I noticed she was pushing and I looked down and there was the baby. I caught him like a rugby ball."
Mr Halford, who has delivered eight babies and has even won an award for his skills, said nothing could prepare him for such a situation.
"You just have to let training take over and get on with it. The biggest worry was keeping the baby and mum warm."
Baby Archie Robin-Lee, weighing 5lb 10oz, was taken by ambulance to Royal Cornwall Hospital.
After hearing that the baby he helped to deliver would share his middle name, Mr Halford said: "It's very touching. It's always special helping a new life into the world."
Lee-Anne was kept in hospital for a week because Archie was suffering from an infection, but both are now in good health.
Although the delivery was unexpected, Lee-Anne joked it would be a good story to tell her son when he grows up.
"I put it on my Facebook page and everyone has been having a laugh about it," she said. "My cousin gave birth on the Crowlas bypass so it must run in the family."