I arrived at Huddersfield railway station in December 1969. I was just 18 and had travelled alone from Penang in Malayasia, arriving in London, and then getting the train from Kings Cross. Huddersfield had been recommended to me by a school friend. In the late 1960s and early 1970s there were dozens of Malaysians like me came to work in the health service (NHS) in Huddersfield. Some moved on to different parts of the country after qualifying while others to different parts of the world and some returned home.

After the tropics of Malaysia the cold weather was a bit of a shock and so was finding out there was no one to meet me at the station. I had to put the unfamiliar coins I possessed into the station telephone and call the hospital, because I had no idea where to go. The call worked and shortly afterwards I was standing in St George’s Square, on the station steps, waiting for the taxi that took me to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

So began my 46-year career working in the NHS, mostly as a midwife. I have delivered many babies in Huddersfield and Halifax over the years and in some cases have supported women from more than one generation of a family. As a result I am often recognised. When this happens, I am moved by the lovely things people say to me.

Something which made me feel welcome when I arrived in Huddersfield was the friendly way people addressed me. The warden at the nurses’ home welcomed me with ‘Hello Love’ and this was a big contrast to how I had been spoken to in London. Although, I do remember that despite her friendly manner, the warden was strict and would lock out any student nurse who dared to stay out later than 10pm.

Lay Hong Hirst