By Matt Abbott and Neil Hawkins
PROUD Justina Williams spoke exclusively to the Gazette about her embarrassment at becoming the first ever mum to have a baby at Lakeside shopping centre.
Justina Williams, 36, got more than she bargained for on her shopping trip after she gave birth to a girl outside Primark.
The birth, the first to happen at Lakeside in its 23-year history, sparked quite a commotion.
With the baby due, Justina, who lives in Hackney, had been advised to go for walks by her midwife to bring on the birth. On Monday she went to Westfield shopping centre in Stratford and had no luck.
Speaking about the dramatic experience, Justina, who now has a girl to go with her three boys, said: “I was leaving a phone shop when I felt a tummy ache.
“I didn’t think it was labour as it wasn’t that painful. I sat down and then it happened so fast.
“There were about 20 security officers surrounding me. A lady who was on the phone to a doctor telling her how to deliver the baby.
“I said I’m not having it at Lakeside. But she said she could see the baby’s head! I never thought I would have my baby at Lakeside.
“I felt embarrassed by the whole thing.”
Emma Brown, 30 of Southend Road, Stanford-le-Hope, was the first person to help Justina. She called security and handed over a coat she had just bought from Primark.
She recalled: “I was shopping with my little girl and saw a lady looking distressed.
“She was crying and saying ‘I think my baby’s coming’. Her son was in a push chair and I was trying to keep an eye on him.
“I just held her hand and tried to keep her calm. The next thing I knew, the baby was coming!”
Pictured: Baby Deborah Williams with mum Justina and the the intu Lakeside team bearing gifts from the centre and its stores including Primark, House of Fraser, Debenhams, Build-a-Bear and 360 Champagne and Cocktails.
Security called an ambulance, but it couldn’t arrive quickly enough, meaning security officer Maggie Webb delivered the baby there and then.
Izzie Peskett, Lakeside’s marketing manager, said: “While a few women have gone into labour here, this is the very first baby that has actually been born in the centre since we opened in 1991. It was an exciting evening for everyone.”
Justina was taken to Basildon Hospital shortly after 5pm and was allowed to return home at around midday on Thursday.
She added: “I wanted a girl and got one, so I’m happy. I’m sure she’s going to be a very keen shopper when she’s older!”
The baby was named Deborah.