Barbara Hereward (née Gilbert) is a new nurse introduced at the beginning of Series Four as a replacement for Cynthia who had gone to Chichester as a postulant. She is portrayed by Charlotte Ritchie.
She is the daughter of a Canon and an immediate hit with the nuns and midwives. Despite coming from a middle-class family, she is no stranger to poverty, having been brought up in Liverpool where, through her father's work, she was exposed to some of the most impoverished situations. Since getting drunk on her first night at Nonnatus House, Barbara has felt the constant need to redeem herself. In one episode, she helps to deliver an impressive three babies in one day. In another episode, she tries to help a heavily pregnant Sylheti woman, but requires the help of the woman's young son to communicate with her as she doesn't speak English.
In Season Five, Barbara begins dating curate Tom Hereward, ex-fiancé of her colleague Trixie. This causes some friction between Barbara and Trixie, whose break-up with Tom had led to her becoming an alcoholic, and Barbara almost finishes with Tom because she can't bear to see that this is hurting Trixie, but Trixie soon learns to let Tom go and she gives the relationship her blessing. In the Season Five finale, Barbara, aided by Sister Evangelina, delivers a baby and Sister Evangelina gives the newborn a bath despite having recently suffered a stroke which left her with limited movement in her left arm. When they return to Nonnatus House, Sister Evangelina nods off in front of the fire and dies in her sleep following a second stroke, leaving everybody devastated, and Barbara is comforted by her colleague Phyllis Crane.
In the 2016 Christmas special, Barbara accompanies her colleagues on a mission to South Africa. While there she and Trixie deal with a woman who appears to be pregnant, but the woman is devastated to be told she experienced a phantom pregnancy. Barbara also helps Trixie to deliver a baby by Caesarean section. At the end of the episode Tom proposes to her and she accepts. Barbara wants her father to marry her and Tom, but after she receives a letter from him saying he'll be posted to New Guinea for three years, she and Tom agree to bring the date forward, and Barbara also picks Phyllis to be her bridesmaid.
It is revealed in her first episode that Barbara's father is a clergyman; he appears in the last episode of Season Six. In the 2016 Christmas Special she reveals she has a sister.