Marking the 75th anniversary of the NHS on Wednesday, 5 July, Their Royal Highnesses The Prince and Princess of Wales surprised NHS staff and patients from across the UK with a very special NHS Big Tea party – even arriving early to help lay the tables, put finishing touches on a birthday cake, and debate the age-old question: jam or cream first?
Hosted by NHS Charities Together, the national charity caring for the NHS of which Their Royal Highnesses are Patrons, , the event was held in the wellbeing garden of St Thomas’ Hospital in London; an initiative funded by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity.
Members of the workforce and patients representing myriad achievements of the NHS and NHS charities over the last 75 years attended the party, including BCHC’s own Ryan Mitchell.
Host Mel Giedroyc helps The Prince and Princess of Wales with their cake icing skills!
Ryan, a senior paediatric occupational therapist, works with children and young people with neurological disorders and has investigated how occupational therapy can make a difference in the use of toys in early intervention and rehabilitation.
The Prince and Princess met with guests ranging from Aneira Thomas, the first baby born on the NHS, to pioneers in research and those on the frontline tackling COVID-19. The guest list honoured staff past and present, including three generations of NHS workers from one family; inspired by grandmother and former nurse of nearly 50 years, Blanche Hines, who was part of the Windrush generation.
Their Royal Highnesses discussed current challenges and thanked staff for the work they continue to do and, in the spirit of the tea party, even attempted to settle the long-standing scone debate regarding jam or cream first, with The Princess voting for jam, and Prince William preferring whatever is closest. They concluded their visit with a video message for the entire NHS: “Wishing everyone a very happy 75th birthday for the NHS. Thank you so much for all you do.”
Ellie Orton OBE, Chief Executive of NHS Charities Together, said: “We want to say a huge thank you to our Royal Patrons, and everyone who’s helped celebrate the 75th anniversary of our beloved NHS this year. As the national charity caring for the NHS, NHS Charities Together is here for anyone who wants to give something back to its people, who all give so much to us, and that extra support has never been so important.”
Senior paediatric occupational therapist Ryan Mason chats to fellow Big Team party guests.
Sarah Binks is manager of BCHC Charity, which has benefited from NHS Charities Together funding. She said “Thanks to generous donations and support from across the nation, NHS charities like us here at Birmingham Community Healthcare have been able to enhance the care patients and carers receive and fund projects to promote wellbeing for our staff as we enter this new way of life post-COVID.
"From safe spaces and relaxing green gardens to promoting early interventions around oral hygiene, diabetes and falls prevention, NHS Charities Together have supported us and we look forward to continuing to grow stronger together.”
Mel Giedroyc, host for the event on behalf of NHS Charities Together, said: “The NHS is part of our DNA in this country, so it was an utter privilege to be involved in this NHS Big Tea surprise to celebrate 75 years of the NHS and NHS charities.
"People were so delighted, and it was just a quintessentially lovely, British day, celebrating our health service that we all love so much. I hope we will continue to love and take care of it for the next 750 years, because it’s something truly precious, and what would we do without it? I have it to thank for my hernia operations!”
Now entering its sixth year, the NHS Big Tea brings the nation together to celebrate the NHS and raise funds to provide the extra support needed for staff, patients, and volunteers. All funds raised from the NHS Big Tea contribute to key projects supporting the incredible NHS workforce, the long-term recovery of the NHS following COVID-19, and projects improving care for patients and communities.