Glastonbury festival babies and solstice quirks | Letters

Babies were once not uncommon at the festival, and some couples perhaps planned a summer solstice birth, writes Dr Chris Howes, while Hugh Levinson poins out that the earliest sunrise and latest sunset do not occur on the solstice

I was interested to read the piece about Heidi Wesson, whose baby was delivered in our medical centre at the 2013 Glastonbury festival and was delighted to see the picture of her with her beautiful daughter Emelia (I gave birth at Glastonbury festival, Weekend, 22 June). Heidi is mistaken, however, in her belief that nobody else has had a baby on site.

We have provided medical services at Glastonbury for 40 years and in our early days festival babies were not uncommon. In total, there must have been 10 or a dozen babies born on the site. It used to be said that some couples deliberately planned conception with a solstice birth in mind. One birth I particularly remember took place in a caravan one misty morning before dawn; I think the baby may have been named Worthy.

We used to include midwives in our team at the festival, but over the years fashions in childbirth and what is considered safe practice have changed. Our policy now for women in labour is to advise a rapid transfer to the nearest maternity unit, but some babies are just not prepared to wait. Emelia was one!
Dr Chris Howes
Managing director, Festival Medical Services

• Your Weatherwatch article (22 June) says Friday “was summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and from now on the nights are drawing in”. By a quirk of the geometry of the solar system, the earliest sunrise and latest sunset do not occur on the summer solstice (longest day) but a few days earlier and later respectively. So we still have a few more days of later sunsets (although probably not noticeable).

The same thing happens around the winter solstice, with the earliest sunset a few days before the winter solstice and the darkest morning a few days later.
Hugh Levinson

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