TODAY is a special day for Neil Whitfield.

Neil was born on New Year’s Day 50 years ago.

And for his mum, Gloria, the memory is as clear as though it was yesterday.

Neil was the only baby to be born in Clacton Hospital on New Year’s Day five decades ago.

Gloria Whitfield, now 70, gave birth to her first son, Neil, following five hours of labour at Clacton Hospital.

Arriving at 11.50am, Neil was delivered without complications and weighed a healthy 7lbs 6oz despite being born two weeks earlier than expected.

Gloria, of Reed Close, Clacton, remembers the moment she held her first born baby in her arms and the years which followed.

She said: “It was so lovely when Neil was born and I really just couldn’t get over it.

“It was just great and he was the only baby born in Clacton on that day.

“When I had my first bath afterwards, I felt like a million dollars because I had lost all the weight, but then the hard work began!”

Gloria added Neil was a charming youngster who went on to be an inspirational adult.

She said: “He was such a lovely and quiet boy when he was younger and he was always well-mannered.”

Neil’s father, Barry, was previously a teacher at Clacton County High School while Gloria also worked in the school’s library for many years, including when Neil was a student.

Neil has since followed in his parents’ educational footsteps having become the deputy head teacher at St Philomena’s School in Frinton.

Neil was also part of the Clacton Coastguard team for 28 years, for which he won an award from the Queen before hanging up his lifejacket in 2017.

His selfless contribution to protecting the community also saw him honoured with a Pride of Tendring Award in 2012.

Multi-talented Neil is also a part-time musical director and even made it into the Guinness Book of Records after staging an entire performance of Our House following just 24 hours of rehearsals.

Gloria said: “I am so proud of Neil and the person he has grown to become.

“He was always into drama and performing as a child but he was also quite reserved.

“He enjoys playing the piano and now he works loads with drama groups like the Princes Youth Theatre, which often goes to other countries to perform.

“He was even a coastguard for more than 20 years, and would often get called out in the middle of the night and then go to teach the next day.

“I really don’t know how he has fitted it all in.”

Now, as he celebrates his 50th birthday, Neil, whose younger brother Karl was born on Armistice Day in 1974, has just been gifted with his third child. Weighing more than 10lbs, baby boy Ashley completes a trio of brothers alongside Charlie and Samuel.

Gloria said: “Neil has two other sons, so we were kind of hoping this might be a girl, but no, all jokes aside, Ashley is really lovely.

“His little brothers have been so good with him.

“It is a milestone birthday for Neil but with all this going on, it has been hectic and a bit of a whirlwind.

“So, his will probably just celebrate by coming around to ours for a bit of lunch with his wife, Emma, and the children.

“But with a ten-year-old, two-year-old and now a new-born baby, I am sure it is going to be quite fun.”