Fiona Duff: New mum at 50? It’ll be tough on school sports day

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Laura Wade-Gery isn’t a name that I had heard before this week. If I paid a bit more attention to the business pages rather than the gossip columns then I would have known all about her.

Ms Wade-Gery is tipped to be the next boss of Marks & Spencer; the first female chief executive of the iconic British company. That is some feather to have in your cap.

However, the reason she was suddenly catapulted into the front section of newspapers is that next month she’s having a baby.

Of course, that in itself isn’t really a news story as rather a lot of women have babies every day of the year. Some don’t even bother to let midwives have Christmas Day as a holiday. But this lady is 50.

She has promised to be back at her desk within four months, and I have no doubt that this will happen.

Mind you, Wade-Gery has got to her half century without having produced any children and may not be quite prepared for what lies ahead. It doesn’t matter how much sway one can hold in the boardroom, those negotiating skills mean nothing to a screaming toddler. The ability to bring silence to the office by walking through the door doesn’t work when a baby is crying in the middle of the night.

I am not going to say whether it is right or wrong to have a child later in life. As someone who has derived so much pleasure and fun from my nippers it would be churlish to deny anyone the right to have their own whatever the age.

I have no doubt that there will be times when she is mistaken for the child’s grandmother and other times when she never realised quite how tired a person can get.

But the main challenge facing this woman who is obviously clever, competitive and successful is that I can virtually guarantee that she ain’t ever going to win a mum’s race at the school sports day.