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Ahead of the 2019 International Day of the Midwife, UWS has today unveiled a unique piece of artwork at its Lanarkshire campus which celebrates past, present and future midwives across Scotland.

The UWS Midwifery Tree of Life, which is the first of its kind, has toured all 14 NHS Scotland health boards, collecting thumbprint leaves from midwives, students and educators along the way. For each thumbprint, a donation of £1 has been made to a newly-created UWS student midwife scholarship fund, with money also donated to the Royal College of Midwives’ Benevolent Fund.

It has been a unifying experience and a true celebration of the community of midwives across the country, with many taking time to document their experiences and memories in a book which appears alongside the Midwifery Tree of Life.

The Tree of Life is the brainchild of third-year UWS School of Health and Life Sciences midwifery student, Heather Gilchrist, who travelled over 4,000 miles last year to help this sapling of an idea grow into the proud and colourful tree on display today in The Street at UWS’ Lanarkshire campus.

Heather said: “It’s a great privilege to be a student midwife, supporting women and families and welcoming new life into the world. I’m so proud that the Tree of Life has been supported with such encouragement and enthusiasm enabling the tree to grow into such a magnificent celebration of the midwifery community across Scotland. Midwives from the 14 health boards are represented here with their own regional colour, with respectful and glorious gold thumbprint leaves added by team members to reflect the midwives who are sadly no longer with us."

“The Tree of Life is symbolic of knowledge-sharing in midwifery, it illustrates the connection between the elder branches of the tree which support the young buds of the future, a reflection of the network of current and former midwives as well as midwives-in-training."
Heather Gilchrist, UWS Midwifery student and creator of the Tree of Life

Heather added: "It’s especially exciting to officially unveil the piece of art ahead of International Day of the Midwife. Like the Tree of Life, the International Day of The Midwife symbolises the partnership and community of midwives; locally, nationally and worldwide, encouraging new networks between the midwives of today and of tomorrow."

Julie Edgar, Dean of the School of Health and Life Sciences at UWS, unveiled the Tree of Life at the special event which saw students, staff and invited guests from NHS Scotland come together to view the finished piece at its permanent home in The Street of the Lanarkshire campus, following its journey all over the country.

Student midwives were on-hand to provide guests with campus tours of the state-of-the-art midwifery teaching unit in the Lanarkshire campus which was opened in September 2018.

Julie Edgar, Dean of the School of Health and Life Sciences, said: “The Tree of Life was an imaginative project, and is an achievement that we can reflect on now and in the future. Heather’s imagination is inspirational and I would like to thank Heather and everyone involved in ensuring the project came to fruition and that we were able to celebrate their achievements today.”

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