Grandparents Songs of Praise


Grandparents

Pam Rhodes meets the granddaughter of Call the Midwife author Jennifer Worth. Plus hymns from Coventry Cathedral, with music by Peter Howarth from the Hollies.


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Transcript


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Hello. Let me introduce myself. I am "Nanny Pammy".

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Well, I am to my little grandson, Jacob, here.

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Being a grandparent is absolutely great.

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There are about 14 million of us in the UK.

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For most, it's a really joyful experience,

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sometimes heartbreaking, often a combination of the two.

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But for me, it's been very special, because, when I got married nine years ago,

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I took on six daughters.

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And that made a total of eight children between us.

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I have to say it has been a great blessing.

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Do you know the best thing about being "Nanny Pammy"?

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As much as I love Jacob to bits,

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when he needs changing, here you are, Mum!

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'Tonight, we celebrate grandparents.

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'How for some, they've been an inspiration,

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'and how for others, being a grandparent

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'has changed their lives.'

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There is an old Welsh proverb which says

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that perfect love sometimes doesn't come

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until the first grandchild.

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I think there's something in that.

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When I first became a mother, I thought nothing could beat the experience of being a mum.

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And now, I'm a grandma,

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and that's even nicer. It feels as if I've completed the circle.

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A circle of love.

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Our music today comes from Coventry Cathedral.

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We start with a hymn

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which is a perfect expression of love's power, through God.

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I grew up in a really loving family.

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I had a very, very happy childhood.

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It wasn't until

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I was a teenager that I realised

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my "grandmother" was not my real grandmother,

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but that my mother had been adopted when she was a baby.

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As she grew older, Elizabeth became fascinated to know about her real grandmother.

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With just a name and an old address taken from her mother's adoption certificate,

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she set about searching for any record of her grandmother's death.

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I had to trawl through each of the registry sheets.

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Then I sat down every evening with my laptop on my knee.

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I remember the moment when I found her.

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We were actually watching football on the television.

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And suddenly there it was, Miriam Sabina Garratt.

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And there could be no doubt about it,

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because of that strange middle name.

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And I was trembling, looking at it.

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There she was, real.

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Sadly, Elizabeth's real grandmother had died in 1970,

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aged 71, and unmarried.

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But, for Elizabeth, there was a further lead.

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On the death certificate,

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she was down as a retired chief model maker

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for the City Architects Department in Coventry.

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So I rang the City Library,

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and I got through to somebody, and they said,

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"Oh! That's the lady who wrote the poem, isn't it?"

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And I said, "Poem?!

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"What poem? I don't know anything about her."

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So she said, "Oh, yeah, she wrote a poem about Coventry,

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"and it sold hundreds of copies."

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It's not great poetry,

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but she wrote very feelingly about Coventry during the war.

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And she quoted Jesus' words on the cross.

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"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

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And I read this, and I thought,

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"This is amazing."

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It was like turning a focus on a camera,

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and a face and a personality beginning to come together.

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Over time, Elizabeth discovered more about her grandmother -

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that she'd also been a well-known artist

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in her home town of Coventry.

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It was unexpected

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to find that my grandmother was somebody

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that I could connect with...

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I felt that I could connect with,

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on many levels,

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and on a level of faith, as well.

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And as I've gone on,

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I've been really surprised about how much it's meant to me.

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She was obviously a warm person. She had a faith.

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And she put it all together in this way which really touched people.

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That was so warming, to feel,

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"Yes, this is the grandmother we've been looking for, really."

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She's part of my life now.

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# It is a thing most wonderful

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# Almost too wonderful to be

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# That God's own son should come from heaven

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# And die to save a child

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# Like me

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# And yet I know that it is true

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# He chose a poor and humble lot

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# And wept and toiled

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# And mourned and died

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# For love of those

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# Who loved him not

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# I sometimes think about the cross

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# And shut my eyes and try to see

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# The cruel nails

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# And crown of thorns

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# And Jesus crucified for me

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# But even could I see him die

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# I should but see a little part

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# Of that great love Which like a fire

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# Is always burning in his heart

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# And yet I want to love thee, Lord

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# Oh, light thy flame

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# Within my heart

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# And I will love thee

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# More and more

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# Until I see

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# Thee

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# As thou art. #

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About 20 years ago, we bought this house

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in a lovely rural area.

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It was designed for our retirement, really,

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but of course, it didn't work out that way.

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12 years ago, Tony Gaskell and his wife, Lesley,

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took over the care and upbringing of their daughter's children

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when she could no longer cope.

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'Daniel was five,

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'and Joseph was six.'

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What were your priorities, then, in making sure that they had

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peace of mind as they grew up?

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Telling them how much I loved them,

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that was the main priority.

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Children love to be told how much you love them.

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They love to be loved.

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In those early days, of course,

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it was both you and your wife

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who were coping, but that didn't last for long, did it?

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No, unfortunately Lesley died from lung cancer

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and I was left then on my own

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with the two boys.

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The grief was like a ton weight on my head, for years.

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And you were having to deal

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with that pain of bereavement,

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while two sets of little eyes were looking at you for reassurance

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that they were OK?

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Absolutely.

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When you hear a piece of music,

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something that reminds you,

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you've got to turn your back on them.

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Because you've got to not let my grief

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overflow onto their lives.

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They've got enough to handle,

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with growing up, haven't they?

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And all the time, you were dealing with everything

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on your own?

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Everything, everything.

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I'm a dreadful cook.

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I've even been to lessons to try...

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I still can't do it.

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Still hopeless.

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But you get on with it.

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It just happens.

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I had to go to parents' evenings.

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I found it ultra-hard,

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I really did, and I had to learn how to do it.

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If Joseph says, "What d'you think about this, Grandad?"

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I can't say, "Well, I don't know how to do it,"

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you've got to try and get through it for him,

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as a father would.

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Where do you go when you want to talk things over?

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I belong to my local church.

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It's very peaceful there.

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I think prayer comes in a million different ways.

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I think a prayer can be a thank you

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for something that happens in my day.

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And that's my source of prayer.

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Wouldn't it have been nice if your wife were here

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to share all this with you?

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I talk to my wife.

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I believe she's listening to me and she can hear me.

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D'you know what I would like most of all?

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To hear her opinion

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what she thinks of them now.

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Because they are two fabulous boys.

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They really are. I'm not just saying that, they are.

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She was definitely the ideal grandma.

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We'd play games, and she'd teach us how to bandage up

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our teddy bears properly.

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Then always on a Sunday morning, she'd take us to church.

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When she was in her 20s, she trained as a nurse and a midwife,

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with an order of nuns.

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I remember when my mum told me she was writing a book about it.

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I was about ten, and I really wanted to read it,

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but my mum said it was far too graphic

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and not for a ten-year-old, so I had to wait for a little while.

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That book and its sequels

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are now phenomenal bestsellers.

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And Eleanor's grandma, Jennifer Worth,

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has been immortalised

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in the popular BBC series, Call The Midwife.

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It's been incredible to watch it progress from this

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very privately-published book

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to suddenly this huge piece of writing

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that everyone is wanting to read,

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and whenever you hear people saying, "Oh, did you watch Call The Midwife?",

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I'm like, "Yes! Course I did!"

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I ate at least four slices of that cake,

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and I didn't realise I was coming to a convent.

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'It's been a really nice tribute to her.

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'She died just before they started filming for it.

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'But right up until the end,

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'she was very involved with the casting and scriptwriting and stuff.'

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Do you have a faith, Nurse Lee?

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Not really.

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I'm Church of England.

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We're Anglican, too.

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I think she would have definitely

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been proud of what they've made of it,

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but she was very practical

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and didn't like to make a fuss over anything.

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She probably thought this would have been very over the top

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and very unnecessary, and all of that.

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But I think she would have really appreciated it.

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Your grandma's story

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has made a very big impression on you.

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Definitely.

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I knew I always wanted to go into care work,

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ever since I was little.

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But I've definitely decided I want to do midwifery,

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and I've applied to do midwifery at university.

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I think it's just an amazing thing to do,

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and I'm so jealous of my grandma - that she got to do that for so long,

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and that she loved it so much.

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She was certainly remarkable in life,

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but also remarkable as she faced death.

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When she was diagnosed with cancer,

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it was such a shock.

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I think she was the one that helped us through it the most.

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As she became more ill, it was definitely more apparent

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how important her faith was to her.

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She always had a cross and a Bible next to her bed.

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Right until the very end,

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if we had a big solo or something,

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she'd always come and be in the front pew, watching us.

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Going to church now, it keeps her alive, as well.

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# Rejoice in God, my saviour. #

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I was at work.

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And my son rang me.

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I picked the phone up,

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and there was a crying young man on the other end of the phone,

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saying, "It's a girl, it's a girl!

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"And she's beautiful."

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We had a moment, he and I, on the phone together, I have to say.

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Something quite extraordinary

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when your own children have children themselves.

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Being a grandfather is something that I always imagined

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as suddenly making you very old.

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But it did the opposite - it was a wonderful event.

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We were part of her life for seven years.

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They were wonderful, joyous times.

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Happy times. Lots of laughs, lots of giggling.

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One day, five years ago, Jane and Marc saw their granddaughter

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for the last time.

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Divorce and family breakdown meant a total separation.

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Being a grandparent, you think

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you should be able to put things right.

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You are actually quite ashamed, and you feel ashamed

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that you can't sort it out and put things right.

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Whenever she came here,

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she always enjoyed our summerhouse.

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It was her private place where she could go out and read,

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and she could paint.

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That was her place and it was full of all her things

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when she'd gone.

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Having gone through those quite dark days, some of them,

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I made the conscious decision that I had to make

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a positive out of a negative.

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So, I did a bit of research,

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and found out that actually

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there's over a million children in the United Kingdom

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who are denied contact with their grandparents.

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So I thought I would try and set up

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a support group.

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And, to my astonishment, people turned up.

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What we're doing is,

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we're supporting each other.

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We're all here to listen,

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and I've met some very good friends as a result of a huge negative in my life.

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I don't think I could be doing

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what I'm doing

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unless somebody bigger and better than me, somewhere,

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is steering me along that course.

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I spend hours on the telephone,

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talking to grandparents in huge distress.

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I wouldn't be able to cope with that

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unless there was somebody

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just saying, "Come on, Jane, you can deal with this."

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You have to hope.

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If you don't hope, then the question is, "What's the point?"

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I hope that one day she will find us.

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We're hoping for that knock on the door.

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# The Lord's my shepherd

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# I'll not want

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# He makes me down to lie

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# In pastures green

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# He leadeth me

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# The quiet waters by

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# My soul he doth

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# Restore again

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# And me to walk

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# Doth make

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# Within the paths of righteousness

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# E'en for his own name's sake

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# Yea, though I walk through death's dark vale

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# Yet will I fear not ill

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# For thou art with me

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# And thy rod and staff me comfort still

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# My table thou has furnished

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# In presence of my foes

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# My head thou dost with oil anoint

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# And my cup overflows

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# Goodness and mercy

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# All my life

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# Shall surely follow

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# Follow me

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# And in God's house

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# For evermore

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# My dwelling place shall be

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# Goodness and mercy all my life

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# Shall surely follow me. #

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This is my nan, Lily, and she brought up her children, during the Second World War, in Kent

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with the Battle of Britain raging in the skies overhead.

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What got the family through was that they worked together

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and they made do.

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Well, nowadays, we have so much and want still more,

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so perhaps there is quite a bit that we could learn from my nan's generation.

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My grandfather was a Christian but the main thing was about him

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he lived it out.

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He never ever gave you the feeling that you,

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if you were wrong, you couldn't be forgiven.

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He always had that attitude.

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My grandmother was matriarchal,

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and she was strict.

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But she was also

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very human, as well.

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I used to love standing next to her in the chapel and singing.

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He would just pick me up,

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put me on his lap,

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and cuddle me.

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I could hear his heartbeat

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and I'd go...

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I'd just drop off to sleep.

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And that was a lovely feeling

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and I've never forgotten it.

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She very much showed me what was beautiful around me.

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That feeling that you're always, always a part

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of something so much bigger than yourself,

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and that you matter, no matter what you do.

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I told my grandmother that I'd like to do some family tree research

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and she suddenly produced an old, rather tatty family Bible,

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which she said had some names inside it,

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and I talked about them to her.

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I do wish now that my grandmother was here to see

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what I've found out about the family.

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There are lots of things I'd like to be able to tell my grandparents, or I'd love for them to share now.

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# The Lord bless you and keep you

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# The Lord make his face

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# To shine upon you

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# And be gracious unto you

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# The Lord lift his countenance

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# Upon you

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# And give you

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# Peace. #

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-HE BURPS

-Oh!

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There can't be many things

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that are better than having a cuddle

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with your grandchild,

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and there is a really special bond

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that spans the generations.

0:31:060:31:09

So that to have a loving, and a loved, grandparent in your life

0:31:090:31:12

can really shape what you become.

0:31:120:31:14

And, you know, they make us all we could be, too.

0:31:140:31:18

And for Jacob and me, blessings don't come much better than that.

0:31:180:31:22

Next week, Aled meets some famous faces

0:33:170:33:20

who, like him, were once choristers,

0:33:200:33:23

and finds out how that experience as a youngster

0:33:230:33:28

has made a difference to their lives since.

0:33:280:33:31

There'll also be some wonderful hymns sung by choristers

0:33:310:33:34

from all over the country.

0:33:340:33:35

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:33:550:33:58

Pam Rhodes meets the granddaughter of Call the Midwife author, Jennifer Worth, who's been inspired by her grandmother's example, and introduces hymns from Coventry Cathedral with music by Peter Howarth from the Hollies.


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