today5 July 2021 167

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are taking part in events to celebrate the 73th birthday of the National Health Service today

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will celebrate the 73rd anniversary of the NHS at a service of thanksgiving before hosting a tea at Buckingham Palace.

The service at St Paul’s Cathedral will celebrate the NHS’s contribution to the country during Covid-19, reflecting on the work and achievement of health staff, volunteers and carers.

William and Kate will join guests including leading figures in the NHS pandemic response, several hundred members of frontline staff, and patients.

NHS England said staff will be placed “at the heart” of the socially distanced service.

Among the congregation will be NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens, matron May Parsons, who administered the first Covid-19 vaccination outside clinical trials, Sam Foster, the nurse who gave the first Oxford AstraZeneca jab, members of staff who treated the first Covid-19 patients in England, and a number of patients who have been treated for the virus.

Later, William and Kate will host the NHS Big Tea in the gardens of Buckingham Palace to pay tribute to the work of NHS staff who have gone above and beyond in tackling the pandemic.

They will meet staff ranging from respiratory ward nurses, counsellors and care workers, to those working in non-clinical roles including catering managers and housekeeping co-ordinators.

The NHS Big Tea is organised by NHS Charities Together and is a national celebration of the health service, offering the opportunity for communities to come together for a moment of reflection and to thank staff and volunteers for the role they have played throughout the pandemic.

The event hosted by the duke and duchess is one of thousands of Big Teas taking place on Monday in homes, hospitals, schools and community spaces across the UK.

Alexandra Heys, nurse ward manager in the respiratory high care unit at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The special tea at Buckingham Palace means a lot to NHS staff who have been through so much over the last year, and I feel so honoured to be meeting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge today.

“I know from personal experience that the past year has taken a huge toll on NHS staff who have worked incredibly hard to take care of patients during a challenging time.

“My team at the respiratory high care unit has cared for over 300 very sick Covid patients, all of whom required dedicated around-the-clock care.

“All NHS staff have gone above and beyond, providing additional care in difficult circumstances, including connecting isolated and very sick patients with their families in their most challenging moments.

“We have all been through a lot, so seeing the public get behind the NHS Big Tea on such as massive scale is an immense boost and really makes a difference.”

England footballer Jordan Henderson, who helped put his team through to the Euro 2020 semi-finals, said NHS staff are the “real heroes”.

Henderson, appointed an Official NHS Charities Together Champion in January following his creation of the #PlayersTogether initiative, said: “After the last 16 months, this nation owes so much to the NHS and the least we can do this July is encourage everybody to express their collective gratitude for that selfless support.

“We know as footballers we are often the ones being looked up to, but this is about the real heroes so, from all of us associated with the England football teams, we raise our mugs for the NHS Big Tea with a simple message – thank you.”

The Crown actress Olivia Colman said: “As ever, I am tremendously grateful for our heroic NHS, but even more so following this very peculiar year.

“We are so lucky to have our NHS, and today we will celebrate its 73rd birthday. There is much to celebrate, but also much to be aware of as we try to recover from the past year.

“It’s our turn to care for our NHS staff and show them all the love and respect we can, by raising money for the support NHS Charities Together provides.”

NHS Charities Together is the independent national charity partner of the NHS and an umbrella organisation made up of 240 NHS member charities based within hospitals, mental health trusts, ambulance trusts, community health trusts and health boards across the UK.

William and Kate became its joint patrons in December 2020.


Written by: Gabriel Ciniglio

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