OK, so this one might be a bit soppy because my only daughter – my baby girl – will be 30 years old at precisely 12.34pm on Saturday.

I know that as a result of looking through the ‘Baby Journal’ we lovingly kept for Hannah Olivia Barron, and there’s a pink record card from Northallerton Maternity Unit glued onto the opening page.

Type of delivery – normal. Birth weight – 7lbs 8ozs. Length – 50cms. Head circumference – 34 cms.

In my favourite picture of the two of us, above, she’s still small enough to sleep on my chest. Now, in the blink of an eye, she’s a woman saying goodbye to her twenties, with a happy life in London as a dance teacher.

And yet I remember her being born like it was last week. She was our second – we’d already had a boy – so my wife, Heather, and I were hoping to balance things out with a girl.

Christopher’s birth had taken ages, so I was probably feeling a bit complacent as I braced myself for another marathon wait in the delivery room at The Friarage Hospital. My wife was managing the early contractions by using a Val Doonican-style rocking chair, so I nipped out for a copy of The Northern Echo and a bag of Midget Gems.

By the time I casually returned, it was all systems go. Unlike Christopher, the new baby was in a rush to come into the world, and it all happened much more quickly.

The midwife was called Judith Gray – I know that because it’s in the Baby Journal – and I remember lifting up the new-born and saying: “Would you like to tell your wife what you’ve had?”

“IT’S A LITTLE GIRL!” I bawled, bursting into tears, and apologising for being such an embarrassment.

“Oh, we love it when the dads cry,” smiled Judith. She’d been so reassuringly brilliant throughout it all that I was tempted to reward her a black Midget Gem, and I don’t do that lightly.

Further into the Baby Journal, on the ‘First Impressions’ page, Heather wrote: “A wonderful baby girl. All that inside me for nine months. She is perfect.” And I wrote underneath: “She looks like a little squashed tomato, but I know she’ll be beautiful one day.”

And she is. Happy 30th birthday, Baby Girl.


A little collection of Hannah quotes, taken from the Dad At Large archives…

“DADDY, I love you almost as much as I love cheese sandwiches.” When she was six and I was reading her a bedtime story. It may not seem very much to you, but I know how much she loved cheese sandwiches.

BY the time she’d had two more brothers, Hannah was in a position to give me a sex education lesson…

“Dad, I know how babies are made – do you want me to tell you? Well, what happens is that the daddy shoots out lots of seeds and they float down a tunnel looking for the mummy’s eggs, and then one of the seeds bangs its head really hard against the egg until it lets it in.”

Then, after a pause, she added thoughtfully: “You must have had lots of seeds with hard heads to make us all.”

“DAD, is it true that you get square eyes if you watch too much tellyvizzen?”

Me: “Yes, it is.”

Hannah: “Good – I’ll be able to see round corners and check what Jack’s up to in my room.”

AT a New Year’s Eve party at the village hall when she was eight: “Daddy, will you please stop dancing and sit down because you’re embarrassing us all.”

DURING a trip to Redcar Races and my mum was eyeing up the runners: “I think I fancy that Beau Roberto,” she said.

“You can’t!” replied an alarmed Hannah. “You’ve got Grandad!”

WHEN she was seven: “Daddy, I’ll love you even when you’re bald and fat and wearing someone else’s teeth.”

I still have my own teeth so one out of three isn’t so bad.