Cornwall NHS staff are among around 1,500 from across the UK who will attend a special service at Westminster Abbey, to celebrate the 75th birthday of the NHS.
Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, senior government and political leaders and health leaders have also been invited to the service, that will be held at 11am on Wednesday 5 July. Other guests include celebrities like Mel Giedroyc and other supporters of NHS Charities Together, the national charity caring for the NHS.
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.
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, is among those who will read prayers. The UK’s first sickle cell nurse, Dame Elizabeth Anionwu OM, is one of those who will give testimonies.
The winning images from NHS England’s photography competition to mark 75 years of the health service will also be on display.
Guests from Cornwall
Lesley Beresford’s career in the NHS began in 1970, when she got her first job in the social therapy department at the old St Lawrence’s Hospital in Bodmin. A year later she started her Registered Mental Training to become a mental health nurse. On 24 September 2023, she will have worked for the health service for 53 years.
From those early days under Matron’s watchful eye and earning just a few pounds a week, she has seen many changes. Lesley’s first role was on the female acute admission ward and covered everything from temperature checks and bowel charts to cleaning out lockers, windows, and floors. She moved on to hold roles such as ward sister, night sister and community psychiatric nurse, before a change in direction to the newly formed Continuing Health Care team. To begin with, she was the only CHC nurse assessor to start with covering the whole of Cornwall and she still enjoys that role and building relationships with her patients to this day!
Watch Lesley’s story…
Alison started working in general practice in 1992 on a youth training scheme, at what is now the Three Spires Medical Practice in Truro. In 2003 she became Practice Manager at Phoenix Surgery in Camborne and studied for a management degree in her spare time. 10 years later she became Practice Manager at Helston Medical Centre and was asked to join the partnership in 2016.
Alison has seen many changes during her career in general practice, including working through the COVID-19 pandemic and helping to find a solution when their neighbouring practice handed back its GMS contract. The partnership took on the new contract for Meneage Street surgery in April 2023, securing provision for its registered patients and job security for its incredible team.
Alison said: “I have always been honoured to work in the NHS and, in particular, general practice. The dedication of our practice teams undoubtedly enables us to cope in the most challenging of times”.
Dr Allison Hibbert
Dr Allison Hibbert has worked for the NHS for 25 years, starting as a physio support worker and phlebotomist before qualifying as a doctor in London in 2003. She has been a local GP in North and East Cornwall since 2008 and is currently the lead GP for Launceston Community Hospital, with an interest in the care of older adults and supporting education of healthcare professionals.
Dr Hibbert is also the GP Clinical Lead for dementia for NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Integrated Care Board and chairs the Cornwall Dementia Partnership. Working with system partners across health, social care, and the voluntary sector, she champions for improvements in dementia diagnosis and care in Cornwall and wanting to make dementia “everyone’s business”. She recently worked with colleagues from Healthwatch Cornwall and Memory Cafes to gather views of carers and people living with dementia to help shape services. Healthwatch produced ‘Hear our Voice’ report as a result of this work.
Sarah Tilston knew she wanted to work with children “doing something medical” when she joined the NHS in 1984 and, after finding a leaflet about orthoptics at the bottom of the careers’ drawer at school, visited a local clinic and realised that she had found what she wanted to do.
Sarah went from qualifying as an orthoptist in 1987 to being Clinical Lead for the Community Children’s Eye Services in Enfield and Hertfordshire. She worked in schools during a brief career break, as well as volunteering as a school governor. 6 years ago, she became the Designated Clinical Officer (DCO) for Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) for NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, working across the Integrated Care Board, health providers and the council’s SEND team to improve the experience of children and young people with SEND who also have health needs. She has received two awards for innovation, for ensuring that children with special needs could access appropriate eye tests and for improving the quality of health information for education, health, and care plans.
Sarah said: “I joined the NHS to make a difference for children and I hope that that is my legacy”.
Dr Jim Huddy
Perranporth GP Dr Jim Huddy has spent the last five years writing advice and guidance for other GPs across Cornwall, to inform them of the dangers of opioid medicines. Off the back of that work, Cornwall’s high prescribing has dropped down to national average levels.
Leading the Chronic Pain in Cornwall team, Dr Huddy is now raising awareness and availability of the alternatives to pills for the management of long-term pain. The team has recently set up a network of pain cafes across Cornwall, as part of a 5-year project to ‘de-medicalise’ pain management for people living with chronic pain.
Former mechanical engineer Sean Jennings was 32 when he had what he thought was a routine hernia operation. Since that day, Sean has suffered chronic pain. He was prescribed opioids, gabapentin, and antidepressants for 25 years but is now 5 years medication free thanks to distraction and mindfulness techniques, along with exercise and movement to manage his pain.
Sean has used the last 5 years to tell his story to clinicians and patients, advocating ‘skills not pills’. He has played a key role in helping set up Cornwall’s new network of pain cafes.
Lisa Johnson is Head of Infection Prevention and Control and System Director of Infection Prevention and Control for NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Integrated Care Board. She has strategic oversight of hospital, community, primary care, and care home settings, and promotes and relies upon collaborative networks.
Lisa has worked for the NHS since starting nurse training in 1986. She has held posts within acute, community, specialist and teaching trusts in London, Northampton, and Cornwall, as well as 6 years with the former Health Protection Agency leading on TB and resilience. Lisa also has qualifications in orthopaedic nursing, TB nursing, infection control nursing, a Master’s degree in public health, a post-graduate certificate in education and recently passed a post-graduate module in systems thinking and practice.
Louise started working for the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Family Practitioner Committee in 1990 as a typist in the typing pool. This was her first job after college, and she has seen many organisational changes in that time.
Louise has worked in various departments, including corporate affairs, IT, personnel, complaints. She is currently part of the communications and engagement team.
Natalie has been the Research and Evidence Manager for Healthwatch Cornwall since 2017. She was nominated for her work on the recently published ‘Hear Our Voice’ report on local dementia and memory loss services and support.
Natalie has always been passionate about ensuring people’s experiences are at the heart of service improvement in Cornwall, having also worked as a Care Quality Commission hospital inspector and in roles to improve health outcomes over the last 20 years.
Celebrations from Cornwall to Cumbria
Landmark sites across the country will light up blue on Wednesday evening, from St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall to Carlisle Civic Centre. People are being encouraged to take photos and share them via social media, using the hashtags #NHS75 and #LightUpBlue. The full list of sites can be found here.
All stamped post from 1 July to 4 July will carry a special birthday logo and The Royal Mint has issued a 50p coin to mark the occasion, with funds going to NHS Charities Together.
British artist Charlie Mackesy has created a special NHS75 illustration, to be released on Wednesday 5 July.
The winners of the NHS Parliamentary Awards will also be announced on Wednesday 5 July at a ceremony at the QEII Centre in Westminster, with all nominees, their relevant MPs and other key figures invited.
A number of celebrities are helping to celebrate the birthday, including Tom Hardy. The award-winning Hollywood actor will be reading Zog and the Flying Doctors on CBeebies Bedtime Stories on the night of the birthday.
NHS staff and volunteers will join local communities to ‘parkrun for the NHS’ at parkrun events on Saturday 8 July or junior parkrun events on Sunday 9 July. The events are supported by tennis star Andy Murray and local NHS teams will be on hand at the events to provide information about the health service and signpost to opportunities to support or volunteer.
Weekly parkrun events in Cornwall include Land’s End, Penrose near Helston, Heartlands, Penryn Campus, Trelissick near Truro, the Eden Project, and Mount Edgcumbe near Torpoint. Details and other events can be found on the parkrun website.