Pregnant women hail hero Tube worker 'Pip' for securing rush hour seats

Sarah Ellis, Pip, Vickie Yeardley Image copyright Mummy's Ginn Fund
Image caption Pip has become a familiar face to commuters at London Bridge Underground Station

A mother who wrote a gushing Facebook tribute to a London Underground worker who helps pregnant women get a seat on the Tube during the morning rush hour says she was inspired by the realisation that he must have assisted thousands of people over the years with their "hellish commute".

A post on the page of parenting network Mummy's Gin Fund has seen hundreds of mothers on social media praise the "selfless attitude" of the "legendary" Tube employee know only as Pip - with many recounting their own dealings with him.

It has also sparked the hashtag #BeLikePip on Twitter.

Lee Turner-Conn, 41, from Hither Green, south-east London, says recently seeing Pip helping a pregnant woman on the packed northbound platform of the Northern Line at London Bridge station brought back memories.

"It was a flashback to my own difficult pregnancy five years ago when he had helped me," Mrs Turner-Conn, a mother of twins who works in the City, told the BBC.

"The Northern Line platform between seven and nine in the morning can be packed," she says. "He makes sure everybody is safe and when a train arrives taps on the windows of trains telling people to move along and make space.

"If he sees a pregnant women, he walks into the carriage and says 'pregnant lady. Someone give her a seat' - and everyone gets up."

Mrs Turner-Conn adds: "There were people who knew about him for 10 years. He must have been doing this a long time."

Image copyright Lee Turner-Conn
Image caption Mrs Turner-Conn's gushing Facebook tribute on 1 August was quickly followed by this tweet

While the Tube's famous "Baby on Board" badges are designed to help spare the blushes of mothers-to-be in asking for a seat, the reality is some travellers simply refuse to get the message.

Mrs Turner-Conn says "a lot of women still feel guilty asking. Pip does the asking for us".

It is a situation Elizabeth Duff, senior policy adviser at the National Childbirth Trust, recognises.

"We know that most people travelling on public transport want to be helpful to pregnant women, but sometimes a focus on their phone or the morning paper can mean the opportunity is missed," she says.

"Expecting a baby can mean a woman is more likely to feel queasy, experience backache or just feel very tired, so being offered a seat with kindness and good humour can be very welcome indeed."

The northbound Northern Line in rush hour "can be pretty hellish", said Mrs Turner-Conn in her original Facebook post.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Duchess of Cambridge was given a Baby on Board badge when she visited Baker Street Tube station in 2013, while pregnant with Prince George

"It's packed, it's hot, everyone is in a rush, there are bags, briefcases, suitcases, delays, overcrowding."

She added: "Commuting is hard enough but when coupled with pregnancy it can be enough to drive some of us over the edge.

"Pregnant women get hot, dizzy, sick, tired, swollen, in pain and have a greater sense of personal space.

"The hustle and bustle of the Tube isn't always a great thing! Pip takes the time to make things better for us."

'Shining example'

It is not known how Pip feels about all the attention or his full identity - although since the story broke he has been photographed with two members of the Mummy's Gin Fund group, Sarah Ellis and Vickie Yeardley, on the platform at London Bridge station.

Transport for London has told the BBC they will be contacting the "busy shift worker" through his manager but are yet to respond.

Meanwhile, other commuters have taken to Facebook and Twitter to share their stories.

Image copyright Getty Images

One mother says: "This guy is a legend! He brightens up my morning every day! Always see him helping people and hear him cracking jokes which eases the pain of commuting. I hope TfL know they have great employee."

Another says: "He's fab! I commuted for 9 years thru London Bridge and saw him help so many people in that time :) love him!"

"Please keep him on the platforms and use him as a shining example of customer service to others," reads a Tweet.

Mummy's Gin Fund also appear to be taken aback by the social media and press reaction to its call to to get Pip "the recognition he deserves".

"Pip is a ray of sunshine, making that temporary moment of stressful horror so much more comfortable," it says. "He is everyone's cheerleader, supporter and guide. That's why we started our campaign."

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