General Election 2017: New mother Laura Davies on the election trail for Labour in Shrewsbury
It’s not quite how Dr Laura Davies imagined spending her maternity leave.
Just two months after giving birth to little Nicholas, she is embarking on the election trail as a Labour candidate.
Dr Davies has been selected as the Labour Party’s candidate for the Shrewsbury and Atcham seat. It is the second time she will contest the seat, having lost out to Conservative Daniel Kawczynski in the 2015 General Election.
The snap General Election caught many by surprise and Dr Davies, who works at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, was no exception having just given birth to second child Nicky and settling in to her maternity leave.
But she says she is up for the challenge and being a working mum places her in the perfect position to know the needs and wishes of those she is hoping to appeal to on the doorstep.
She said: "This was not quite how I anticipated spending my maternity leave but he is doing very well and I am looking forward to it."
The former armed forces medical officer says she is prepared for the campaign trail and confident about juggling the gruelling demands of election and a newborn baby.
She isn't the only candidate in the West Midlands coping with the dual challenge either. Labour MP Reynolds gave birth to her baby Theo just four days before the election was called. She is bow battling as a new mum to keep her 5,495 majority in Wolverhampton North East.
Dr Davies said she was determined to put her all into the campaign in Shrewsbury.
She said: "It is five weeks and three days until polling day. It will be an intense few weeks and really busy but after that it will all be over and if Labour put up another good performance in Shrewsbury it gives Labour a greater mandate.
"It is important that people put aside their personal lives and concentrate on the job in hand."
Dr Davies was runner-up in the 2015 Shrewsbury & Atcham contest, polling 15,063 votes to Mr Kawczynski's 24,628.
Shropshire's health services remain one of the biggest local issues in the forthcoming campaign but Dr Davies said she does not want to see the future of hospitals turned into a political football.
She said: "Locally my position is basically the same as it was last time which is that ideally we would not lose any front-line services from the county.
"If there has to be a consolidation of services then those services should be located in Shrewsbury. Purely from a geographical point of view it makes sense because of the population from Mid Wales and South Shropshire. But as last time I do not want to get into a tug-of-war between Shrewsbury and Telford and I think it is aspiring politicians putting their own candidacy ahead of what is best for the county."
Dr Davies said many national issues are also impacting on Shropshire.
She said: "The health service is the big one but things like education, the education budget has been cut nationally, government funding for local councils has been cut which affects social care, child protection, and youth workers. There are far fewer youth workers in Shropshire than there were 10 years ago and it is because councils are being starved of funding from central government."
Dr Davies also said she wanted the country to retain access to the single market, and that it would be important for the NHS to keep access to skilled workers from Europe.
She said: "I appreciate that Shropshire on the whole voted to leave the EU and I have no wish to see another referendum, the people have spoken and the will of the people must be upheld and we will be leaving the EU. But I think it is highly important we avoid the rush for Brexit at any point that this government proposes.
"Leaving Europe without a deal would be an absolute disaster. There are 10,000 European doctors in the UK at the moment and we cannot afford to lose those skills, therefore the protection of those citizens' rights but limiting free movement of those who do not have the skills we need in the UK is something I would campaign for very hard."