Restaurant and supermarket workers helped deliver a baby outside a high street florist’s when the mother started giving birth on her way to hospital.
The pregnant woman was laid out on a flower stand as the baby girl arrived in a breech position in front of her panicked husband and children outside Pinks, in High Road, Whetstone.
Paramedics arrived just in time and delivered the baby, but she was not breathing and had to be revived in the ambulance as she was rushed to hospital.
The woman had been in a taxi with her two children and husband on her way to give birth at Barnet General Hospital, shortly before 7pm on Friday.
But she unexpectedly went into the final stages of labour and, when her husband dialled 999, he was instructed by the operator to stop the minicab and lie the woman flat at the nearest spot - the empty wooden flower stand outside the closed shop.
Workers at a nearby restaurant and supermarket were called out to help as the woman prepared to give birth in the middle of the high street.
Lorenzo Crosta, manager of the Al Fresco restaurant, went outside after being alerted by customers.
The 37-year-old father-of-three said: “She was just laid out on the stand and the baby’s foot was already out when I got round the corner.
“I’ve had children so I knew what was happening and I knew it was an emergency situation when I saw it was feet first. It seemed like an enormity of time before the paramedics arrived.”
A first aider from the nearby Waitrose was called out to help and she and duty manager Stewart Reid did their best to keep the woman calm while taking instructions from the emergency services operator.
Stewart, a manager at Whetstone Waitrose for ten years, said: “We were just trying to give her some comfort and trying to prevent her from having the baby before the paramedics arrived.
“The husband looked like he was in shock. She was screaming that the baby was coming – we were just trying to keep her calm.”
The shaken young children, believed to be aged four and six, were taken into the Italian restaurant where they were given pizza and drinks while the dramatic scenes unfolded outside.
Lorenzo added: “I’m sure anyone who has had a baby knows what the poor woman was going through. You don’t think about yourself, you just act and try to give basic help – there was so much happening.”
Pauline Martin, who has owned Pinks for 18 years, said: “I was gobsmacked – you couldn’t make it up. It is the strangest thing that has happened here all the time I’ve been here.”
Paramedics and police took almost 15 minutes to arrive, during which time Lorenzo brought out cloths and Waitrose duty manager Stewart Reid and his first aider tried to calm the woman down.
It took paramedics less than five minutes to deliver the baby but relief turned to horror when it became apparent that the newborn was not breathing.
Doctors rushed the little girl into the ambulance and managed to revive her on the way to hospital, where she and the mother have since been making a steady recovery.
The father returned to the High Road on Monday to thank everyone who had helped and show some pictures of his newborn baby.
Lorenzo said: “It was emotional – we had a big hug. It was nice - he couldn’t say thank you enough.
“At the moment it is fantastic news. I spoke to his wife on the phone – for me it felt like a film with a happy ending.”
Pauline and Lorenzo sent a bouquet of pink flowers to the family over the weekend and the florist said she was just relieved it all turned out alright.
She added: “It was just nice that it had a happy ending. It was lovely to see the husband and I was so excited to speak to the woman. She was very happy and said she was feeling fine and that the baby was doing ok.”
Stewart admitted that, following the birth of a baby at a Waitrose store in Canary Wharf earlier this month, he initially thought it was a wind-up when he was told about the situation on Friday.
He said: “I’ve never had to deal with an incident like that – we’re just glad we could help.”