South Tyneside medic and equality campaigner publishes autobiography on her remarkable journey
A long-serving South Tyneside medic and equality campaigner has released an autobiography, detailing the story of her extraordinary life.
‘A Girl Called Dolly' is the first book written by retired borough clinician, Dr Shobha Srivastava, who is also chairwoman of the Apna Ghar Women’s Centre on Ocean Road, South Shields.
The self-published work recounts Shobha’s childhood in provincial India, including the arrival of electricity to her town and debilitating experiences of childhood illness.
She worked in London, Manchester and Aldershot before moving to South Shields to take up a role as consultant anaesthetist at South Tyneside District Hospital in 1981.
The autobiography also deals with the racism Shobha encountered upon her arrival in the UK several decades ago, as well as how the national immigration policy pursued under former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher prevented her husband from joining her in the north of England once she and her children had settled in the region several decades ago.
Shobha told The Gazette her experiences of illness and poverty as a child in India profoundly shaped her subsequent worldview.
The adopted South Tynesider became a staunch defender of the NHS, as well as an equality champion campaigning around greater understanding of and provisions for the area’s BAME community.
She has also been a consistent advocate of the coronavirus vaccination programme, having urged borough residents not to pass up the opportunity to get jabbed and therefore protected against the virus.
She said: "I had chicken pox, measles, whooping cough, mumps, typhoid – three times – and I nearly died each time. I caught pneumonia twice.
“In Hinduism, when a person is about to die, or a family is told that someone is about to die, they put them on the ground because that way it’s believed their soul can leave the body more easily.
"And that happened to me two or three times. But each time my father put his foot down, picked me up and put me back on the bed, saying: ‘No, she’s going to live – I’m going to make her live.’
"He was more like a missionary than a regular doctor – because there was and still is no universal health service like the NHS in India.
"I want people to know how I survived and about the determination my dad gave to me.”