Call the Midwife Wiki

Barbara Hereward (née Gilbert) (1937-1963) was a nurse who had been hired to replace Cynthia Miller, whom Barbara would eventually befriend, alongside the other residents of Nonnatus House. She was diagnosed with septicaemia (blood poisoning) caused by meningitis in series 7, and despite some initial improvement in her health, died with her husband, Tom Hereward, and best friend Phyllis Crane at her side in her last moments.

She was the daughter of a canon and an immediate hit with the nuns and midwives. Despite coming from a middle-class family, she was no stranger to poverty, having been brought up in Liverpool where, through her father's work, she was exposed to some of the most impoverished situations.

Since getting sick on her first night at Nonnatus House, Barbara has felt the constant need to redeem herself. In one episode, she helped to deliver an impressive three babies in one day. In another episode, she tries to help a heavily pregnant Sylheti woman, but requires the help of the woman's young son to communicate with her as she doesn't speak English.


Vicar's daughter Barbara Gilbert arrived in Poplar from Liverpool at the very beginning of Series Four to replace Cynthia who had gone to the Mother House as a postulant. On her first night at Nonnatus House, Barbara is invited for a drink with Trixie and Patsy which, despite having had very little, makes her sick; Patsy lies to the nuns, attributing her vomiting to eating bad food on the train. In one episode, when an expectant mother went into labour, Trixie was supposed to attend to her, but Barbara found Trixie passed out from consuming too much alcohol, so she took her place and delivered the child herself, marking her third delivery of the day. In another episode, she tries to help Ameera Khatun, a heavily pregnant Sylheti woman who doesn't speak English and needs the help of Ameera's young son, Faruk, to communicate with her.

Barbaras early days

"They're meant to be trained when they get here"

In Series Five, Barbara begins dating curate Tom Hereward, ex-fiancé of her colleague Trixie. This causes some friction between Barbara and Trixie, whose break-up with Tom had led to her becoming an alcoholic, and Barbara almost finishes with Tom because she can't bear to see that this is hurting Trixie, but Trixie soon learns to let Tom go and she gives the relationship her blessing. In the Series Five finale, Barbara, aided by Sister Evangelina, delivers a baby and Sister Evangelina gives the newborn a bath despite having recently suffered a stroke which left her with limited movement in her left arm. When they return to Nonnatus House, Sister Evangelina nods off in front of the fire and dies in her sleep following a second stroke, leaving everybody devastated, and Barbara is comforted by her colleague Phyllis Crane.

The midwives sharing a laugh

Barbara with her friends

In the 2016 Christmas special, Barbara accompanies her colleagues on a mission to South Africa. While there she and Trixie deal with a woman who appears to be pregnant, but the woman is devastated to be told she experienced a phantom pregnancy. Barbara also helps Trixie to deliver a baby by Caesarean section. At the end of the episode, Tom proposes to her and she accepts. Barbara wants her father to marry her and Tom, but after she receives a letter from him saying he'll be posted to New Guinea for three years, she and Tom agree to bring the date forward, and Barbara also picks Phyllis to be her bridesmaid.

The grass engagement ring

In Series 7 she and Tom return from their time in Birmingham and surprise everyone at the Poplar Picnic. Barbara restarted her work as a midwife with Nonnatus House. She started showing signs of a cold, which she put down to stress due to delivering twins and the fire in which her close friend Nurse Crane was almost killed. Later, she was seen by Nurse Crane who telephoned Dr. Turner. She was found to have blood poisoning from meningitis and was rushed to hospital. Barbara spent several days in hospital whilst not seeming to be any better. She finally wakes up, much to everyone’s happiness. However the septicaemia was found to have caused irreparable damage, as three of her fingers had tissue damage, therefore ending her career as a midwife. Barbara knew she wasn’t getting better and finally passed away with Tom and Phyllis by her side, reciting Psalm 23 while she took her final breaths.

Barbara is laid to rest in the last episode of Series 7, and Phyllis appears to be taking her death extremely hard, and soon begins to suffer from backache, but she springs into action to deliver a young girl's baby, and she names her Barbara. In the 2018 Christmas Special, Phyllis gives Trixie Barbara's uniform cardigan as Trixie's had been eaten by moths.



  • Barbara is the first nurse in the series who has never met nor encountered Jennifer Lee.
  • Barbara along with Phyllis are the last nurses to have worn the original nurse's uniform.