The NHS at 75 - celebrations at Westminster Abbey

5 July 2023

NHS staff from Sussex Partnership will join colleagues from around the country, senior government and political leaders, health leaders and celebrities at a service at Westminster Abbey to celebrate the NHS 75th birthday.

The service, to be held at 11am on Wednesday 5 July, will include an address by NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard.

Guests in the Abbey will include around 1,500 NHS staff, as well as some famous names and NHS Charities Together.

Four dedicated members of staff from Sussex Partnership have been invited to join in the celebrations.

Jane Field, 65, is a registered mental health nurse and has worked within Learning Disabilities since she was 16, when she started at the Trust.

She started her career as a cadet nurse and qualified as a nurse in 1979, managing community homes initially. She said: "I love what I do and have never wanted to work anywhere else. People come to us in a crisis and we help improve their lives, it is remarkable.

"I feel so privileged to be able to represent the Trust at Westminster Abbey. In my opinion the NHS is the best institution in the world and long may it last.'

Grandmother-of-three Gillian Ratcliffe was delighted to discover she was part of the Westminster Abbey celebrations when she received an invitation the day before her 60th birthday. The Pension Officer has been employed by the NHS since 1987 when she started in East Sussex Health Care.

"I can't wait to celebrate NHS 75," she said. "I have always been so proud to work for the NHS. "We are so lucky to have this amazing institution on our doorsteps. Every day I meet great people, the NHS is full of diverse characters. I don’t think there is anything else in the world like it."

John Ottley, 65, is a staff side coordinator for the Trust. He officially retired but returned to work three days a week as a staff side coordinator where he represents staff through unions.

He started at the NHS in October 1977 where he trained and qualified at a psychiatric nurse.

"I know Sussex Partnership Trust so well and very much enjoy working here. The excitement is building about going to Westminster Abbey, all my friends and family can't wait to hear all about it.

"The NHS is a public service and that is why I work here. I really believe in what the NHS stands for and what it is today."

Also attending from the Trust is Stephen Isted, a mental health liaison practitioner.

May Parsons, an associate chief nurse who delivered the world’s first vaccine outside of a clinical trial in December 2020, will carry the George Cross into the Abbey in a procession. May received the medal from Queen Elizabeth II, along with NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard and representatives from the other UK health services at Windsor Castle in July 2022.

She will be joined by 17-year-old Kyle Dean-Curtis, St John Ambulance cadet of the year, who wants to work in the NHS, and 91-year-old Enid Richmond, who was one of the first people to work in the NHS as a junior clerical worker and whose sister still volunteers in the health service.

The ceremony will have prayers read by health and social care secretary Steve Barclay, chief nurse Dame Ruth May, NHS national medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis, chief allied health professions officer Prof Suzanne Rastick OBE, and Richard Webb-Stevens, a paramedic who was first on the scene of the Westminster Bridge terror attack and who holds the Queen’s Ambulance Medal for Distinguished Service.

Testimonies will also be given by Dame Elizabeth Anionwu OM, the UK’s first sickle cell nurse, academic, and author, Ellie Orton, Chief Executive, NHS Charities Together and Dr Martin English and Dr Michael Griksaitis, NHS consultants who jointly led a team who extracted 21 Ukrainian children with cancer over to the UK from Poland in March 2022, following the Russian invasion.

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