NHS staff from Sussex 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.
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.
Alongside them, there will be more than 20 long-serving members of staff from Sussex, including representatives from local hospitals, community care, mental health, and primary care.
Isabella d’Almeida, Clinical Specialist and Service Lead for the Pelvic Health Physiotherapy Team at University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“I have been working at University Hospitals Sussex for almost 20 years and am currently the Clinical Specialist and Service Lead for the Pelvic Health Physiotherapy Team based at Worthing, Southlands and St Richards. I am also working on a national Perinatal Pelvic Health Project as the Clinical Lead for Sussex, developing and redesigning Pelvic health Services across Sussex.
“Last year I won ‘Star of the Month’ after being nominated by a patient which is why I think I was invited to Westminster Abbey. It’s lovely to be invited to such a special occasion – I am so proud to work for the NHS alongside some truly amazing colleagues.”
Mandy Catchpole, Deputy Director of Quality and Infection Prevention for NHS Sussex, said:
“I feel privileged and honoured to have been invited to attend Westminster Abbey to celebrate 75 years of the NHS.
“I started my registered nurse training at Eastbourne District General Hospital, East Sussex back in1995. This has enabled me to gain a wide range of experience across a variety of health services including Intensive Care Units across the South East Region.
“I specialised as an Infection Prevention and Control Nurse and now work across Sussex as the Deputy Director of Quality and Infection Prevention. I have also been very privileged to become a Florence Nightingale Scholar in 2019.”
Sharron Phillips, hotel services team leader, is representing Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (QVH). Sharron first joined QVH in 1986 on a YTS training scheme, achieving national trainee of the year in 1988, before leaving and returning again working on the hospital’s switchboard in 2009. But her family links go beyond that – at least one member of Sharron’s family has worked at QVH since 1975.
Four dedicated members of staff from Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SPFT) have also been invited to join the celebrations, including John Ottley, a semi-retired staff side coordinator for the Trust who first trained as a psychiatric nurse. He says:
“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.”
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 of 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.