Kiwi in charge of making sure all goes to plan

By Megan Gnad

As the newest member of the royal family was introduced to the world, a New Zealander was working round the clock making sure everything ran according to plan.

Cantabrian Tracey Howson is the service manager of the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in London, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed Prince George.

"It was wonderful to have the opportunity to meet Mr and Mrs Middleton, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, when they visited the wing to see their first grandchild," she said yesterday.

"I've been so focused on the operational aspects and making sure everything went well that I've still not fully absorbed it all. It may take some time to fully appreciate it."

Miss Howson worked with a variety of people, including clinicians, communications specialists, security experts, Westminster Council and the Metropolitan Police, to make sure the birth and media coverage went smoothly.

She admits she didn't fully appreciate the magnitude of the occasion until she stepped outside, just before the Duke and Duchess left with their new baby, and saw the huge crowd, and patients and staff waving from the windows of the building opposite.

"Working with the Duke and Duchess' team and key people from the hospital has been an incredible experience and a privilege.

"Such a lot of thought and planning goes into these events, but at the centre of all these plans was an amazing couple having their first child, and their care and privacy was paramount at all times."

Miss Howson attended Ellesmere College and completed a bachelor of nursing degree at Christchurch Polytechnic. She went to Britain with a friend in 1997 to live the "OE dream", and has been there ever since.

She began as a staff nurse in the private healthcare unit at Charing Cross Hospitaland progressed to head of nursing before moving to St Mary's about four years ago.

She Howson was involved in the Lindo Wing's extensive refurbishment project, including its closure and reopening in June last year.

"I'm delighted with the result and the feel of the unit. You feel you are somewhere special as soon as you enter the door," she said.

"The Lindo Wing has always had sense of pride and tradition; all staff have a professional, quiet and discreet manner.

"As the manager I am reassured that every single patient and their family is very well cared for."

Miss Howson said she never imagined her career would take the turn it has, but she's having the time of her life.

"I've had the opportunity to meet some amazing people. I am immensely proud to be manager of the Lindo Wing and I wish the Duke and Duchess and Prince George of Cambridge happiness with their new family."

Miss Howson lives in a village in Epping Forest with her partner Anand, a consultant urologist.

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