NHS Birthday Celebrations

Celebrating NHS70

Birthday celebrations for the NHS marked a momentous occasion

Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust held two bumper celebrations to mark the 70th birthday of the NHS.

A huge event was held at City Hospital, which was funded by Unison and Unite, whilst at Sandwell, there was a smaller tea party within the Courtyard Garden. Both had entertainment, food and stalls from specialties across the groups.

GMB Trade Union arranged for a vintage ambulance to visit Rowley Regis Hospital and they also took along 200 donuts as a treat for the team and visitors.

Sandwell party-goer Claire Roach, Occupational Therapist and Care Co-ordinator, popped in during her break and said: “There’s a wonderful atmosphere and everyone is really enjoying themselves. Our team really wanted to be part of the celebrations and we’re so glad we could make it along.”

As part of the Sandwell event there was an exhibition of old photographs and artefacts organised by Jenny Porter, who is a research nurse and also runs a hospital histories group.

Jenny said: “There was a tremendous amount of interest in the old pictures which dated back to the 1920s. It led to many people wanting to share their memories of working here and also being a patient. The hospital histories group is currently collating memories for a book that we are producing and would welcome people to come forward with any other old photos or memorabilia they may have.”

Chris Rickards, Trust Convenor had organised the City Hospital party. She said: “There were more than 1,000 visitors coming along throughout the day. The atmosphere was electric and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

“We had a wide variety of food from various cultures which went down really well. Whilst the bucking broncho was a complete hit with not just our community, but even with some of our senior leaders who came along after their Trust Board meeting.

“A magician provided some great entertainment, whilst local MP Shabana Mahmood came along to soak up the atmosphere.”

After the party Chris took along the specially made 70th birthday cake to Leasowes Intermediate Care Centre, to donate it to colleagues and patients.

Theatre Practitioner, Colleen Stirling visited the City Hospital party along with her colleague Kamla Devi.

Colleen said: “We’ve really enjoyed the party, the food is lovely and it’s nice to be recognised. The event is a great occasion to bring our colleagues and the community together.”

It wasn’t just staff who were celebrating – patients joined in too, with wards and departments hosting their own small parties, whilst each inpatient received a birthday card which contained a special message from Chief Executive, Toby Lewis and Chief Nurse, Paula Gardner – who both also hand delivered cards to patients on Lyndon 4 and D26.

As they received their cards, patients were full of praise for the NHS and for the treatment they were experiencing at our Trust.

Patient, Glynn Davies said: “I had a total hip replacement two days ago and I should be going home tomorrow. I cannot fault the service at all – I already feel so much better.”

Meanwhile, Mary Rowland, a patient at Leasowes said: “The team here is wonderful and look after me brilliantly. I can remember the NHS starting when I was 13 and it was amazing to start receiving free healthcare.”

Many people won’t remember what they were doing when the NHS turned 70, but Nicola Dunn and Andrew Palmer will have a clear memory of 5 July 2018, as at 12.06am, their daughter Anastasia Palmer was born was City Hospital – becoming of one of the first NHS 70 babies.

Nicola and Andrew Palmer with baby Anastasia.
Nicola and Andrew Palmer with baby Anastasia.

Nicola said: “The midwives were fantastic and we were certainly surprised to learn that our daughter shares the same birthday with the NHS. It’s a special day and we just want to say thank you to the NHS for looking after us when we need it.

“We also received a birthday card from the Trust and we think it’s a very nice gesture. We are sure Anastasia will be so happy to read the card when she is a bit older.”

We didn’t just celebrate the past – we also celebrated the future of the NHS. Pupils from Ryders Green Primary School visited our children’s wards to hand out get well soon cards which they had made for patients. They also told us that they were hoping to work in the NHS when they are older.

Eight year old, Lilly Price said: “I think nurses and doctors are amazing people – they are always helping to make people feel better and they always seem to be smiling.

“I really want to be a nurse when I grow up and hopefully I will be able to celebrate the NHS’s birthday too.”

WATCH: Dr Manish Pundit, Consultant in Nuclear Medicine, produced this amazing film about our Trust, to mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS:

70th anniversary wall

Below are some messages of thanks to the NHS.

“I’d like to say a big thank you to the NHS for helping me when I broke my ankle. The staff at City Hospital were brilliant and gave me a bright green cast. It was a real blow being injured, but my ankle healed quickly and I was able to get straight back to karate and football. Without the NHS I may not have had the treatment I needed in time to prevent a permanent injury.” Brody Rogers (17)

“My mum was admitted to your A & E department in June following a collapse at a local theatre. Your hospital is out of her area since she lives in Wolverhampton. The care she received whilst in your care from resusitation to MAU to Priory 5 was brilliant. Tracy Johnson and the geriatric consultant who received her were quietly reassuring, diagnosing instantly the cause and all staff who supported and dealt with my mum were professional non-condesending and just amazing. Thank you all.” Helena Jones 

“Sterling work carried out by all. Not often appreciated and difficult circumstances sometimes experienced, but never fail to deliver, whatever resources are available. I shudder to think where we would have been the last 70 years without such an envied system. Dedicated and remarkable staff, a vocation displayed every day by them. Thank you NHS. For the past and all the pioneering work towards the future, I salute you!” Jayne Keay, Tipton.

Memories of the NHS

Watch our videos of staff, past and present, talking about NHS70 and their memories of working at our Trust.

Mayor of Sandwell Councillor Joy Edis worked at Sandwell Hospital:

Mary Whitty, retired nurse is interviewed by her twin granddaughters about what it was like working at our Trust:

Glenys Welch shares her memories of working within the NHS with her grandson Thomas Walsham:

Celebrating NHS 75

Nurses share memories of NHS on milestone birthday

They are the nurses who have a combined experience of over a thousand years – and gathering together ahead of the 75th birthday of the NHS, they shared some of their fondest memories of working at City Hospital in Birmingham.

Around 200 people were at a reunion held at the Dudley Road site with one flying in from as far as New Zealand to be there.


They included Eileen, who joined the hospital as a trainee in 1955. Now aged 86, she chuckled as she recalled seeing a full-size car being driven up the historic corridor – reported as one of the longest hospital corridors in Europe.

Eileen as a trainee nurse in 1955.

“The doctors and nurses were always playing tricks on each other in the wards, but I remember one day in particular when I just heard this boom, boom, boom,” Eileen recalled.

“We went rushing to the door and when we opened it, saw this red car being driven up the corridor, right up to the very end. But of course, they couldn’t get it back out, so pushed it into the ward where I was working to turn it around and get it out. The story about the car is legendary.”

The main City Hospital building is due to be demolished when the Midland Metropolitan University Hospital opens in Smethwick next year – both are part of Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust.

It dates back to 1887 when it was a workhouse. It became a District General Hospital in 1920 and is recognised for its Nightingale wards and the long corridor known today as the main spine.

Sophie Gask and Celia Moore talked about how nursing had improved over the years. Both trained at the Trust in 1984.

Sophie said: “Nowadays its much easier to do some aspects of the job, like the observations and there’s more equipment to help move patients around. I also think there are more opportunities for nurses to become specialists in certain areas so in some ways, the sky’s the limit.”

City Hospital was also the place where lifelong friendships were made. Alison Jackson and Karen Lewis trained together from 1986 until 1989, living together in the nurses quarters.

The pair were happy to re-enact a photograph that was taken during their training, when they attended the event.

Alison and Karen re-enact a photograph taken years ago at City Hospital.
Alison and Karen re-enact a photograph taken years ago at City Hospital.

Alison said: “We are still friends to this day. Living and working together really helped us to develop friends that have lasted a lifetime. We’ve had a great time returning to City and seeing all the old buildings which hold many happy memories for us.”

Mel Roberts, Chief Nursing Officer, said: “It was a truly wonderful day meeting so many nurses and former nurses and hearing their stories. The NHS and City Hospital holds fantastic memories for so many people and it’s important that we recognise the impact it has had on their lives.

 “The 75th anniversary is a real milestone and although this event was looking back over the years, we have so much to look forward to, including the opening of our new hospital, Midland Met. We will be delivering healthcare in a cutting-edge environment, training our nurses up using the latest technology – all whilst still continuing to show our patients compassionate care.

“It really is an exciting time for the Trust.”

Watch Eileen and others share their memories in the videos below: