THE last baby girl to be born in an iconic former hospital in York is celebrating her 50th birthday today.
Sally Wilkinson, nee Rhodes, is believed to be the last girl to be born in the private Purey Cust Nuffield Hospital in the shadow of York Minster before its maternity unit closed.
The daughter of well-known top-flight Football League referee Peter Rhodes and his wife Sheila, Sally said her very protective 42-year-old father suggested she should be born in the hospital after reading about babies being mixed up in maternity units.
He missed refereeing a Tranmere versus Rochdale match to be with Sheila, then 30, and to look after older daughter Jane at the time of the birth.
Sally, who was brought up in Dringhouses and Woodthorpe, said: “I’m a very positive person and this feels a new chapter in my life. I was privileged to be born in the hospital.
“My mum always said I was born at 9am with the St Peter’s bell ringing in the background, which was a nice coincidence with my dad being called Peter.”
Sally was delivered by family doctor Sam Smith, of the Dalton Terrace Surgery.
The landmark birthday is one it was not thought Sally would reach after she was involved in a devastating car accident in Wetherby Road as a teenager.
She was given her last rites after the crash which left her with multiple fractures of the pelvis. When she pulled through, doctors warned Sally would not be able to walk again but she gradually recovered, undergoing numerous operations in the decades after the crash.
She said: “My forties were tough - losing my parents, getting divorced, and getting two new hips.
“But I was told I would never walk again, and I can and you would never know looking at me. I never thought I would reach my 17th, let alone 50th.”
Sally, of South Bank, is celebrating her landmark birthday with a Hollywood-themed fancy dress party with family including children Sophie, 17, and James, 13, and good friends.
Her father, Peter, who enjoyed long spells as chairman of the York FA, died in 2011, and Sheila, who had worked in the family’s grocery shops, died in 2007.
Ian Saville, who was born a couple of weeks later at the Purey Cust Nuffield Hospital, to Barbara and Michael Saville, owners of Saville’s camera shop in Goodramgate, now lives in the USA.
The Purey Cust Nuffield Hospital moved to a new building in Haxby Road in 2004.