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Westminster Abbey celebrates 70th anniversary of the NHS

Thursday, 5th July 2018

Westminster Abbey celebrates 70th anniversary of the NHS

Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex attended a Service to Celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the National Health Service at Westminster Abbey at Noon on Thursday 5th July 2018.

The service was conducted by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, who said in his Bidding:

In a public address about the National Health Service, which he more than anyone had brought into being, Aneurin Bevan said in 1959 not long before he died, 'I'm proud about the NHS. It's a piece of real socialism; it’s a piece of real Christianity too.'
How we describe the NHS matters less than how we value the NHS for the healthcare and practical support it offers to all: care free on the point of delivery on the basis of need. And the value we recognise in the NHS understands the immense pressure on a vast organisation with ever expanding opportunities for innovative care and healing and ever changing patterns of need and priorities for care.
So, we gather now in this holy place to celebrate and give thanks for 70 years of the National Health Service and to pray for all those involved in the planning and delivery of this remarkable, this unique, service to the people of our land.

The Address was given by Simon Stevens, Chief Executive, NHS England.

Testimonies were read by Olive Belfield, former nurse and NHS Retirement Fellowship; Freya Lewis, patient, and Jenny Grant, Paediatric Critical Care Nurse, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital; and Martin Griffiths, Consultant Vascular / Trauma Surgeon, Barts Health NHS Trust.

The Right Honourable Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health, read Isaiah 35: 1-6, 10; and Selina Litt, athlete and patient, read St Matthew 25: 31-40.

Prayers were led by the Reverend Mark Birch, Minor Canon and Sacrist, and said by: Gabrielle Mathews, NHS Youth Forum; Martin McGonigle, Spiritual Care Lead, Douglas Macmillan Hospice; Yunus Dudhwala, Head Chaplain, Barts Health NHS Trust; Rabbi Baroness Neuberger DBE; Lobke Marsden, Play Specialist, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust; the Right Honourable John Ashworth MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health; and the Reverend Professor Vernon White, Canon in Residence.

At the start of the service, a copy of the original NHS manifest was processed to the High Altar by Nurse Aileen Coomber, escorted by Liam Islam and Chris Pointon.

The service was sung by the Westminster Abbey Special Service Choir, directed by James O’Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers. The organ was played by Peter Holder, Sub-Organist, and before the service by Matthew Jorysz, Assistant Organist.


Order of Service (PDF, 258KB)

At different times of the day, or in different seasons, the light falling in the Abbey will light up something that you have walked past a million times and never seen before.

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Vanessa, Head of Conservation

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