In a momentous celebration of the National Health Service’s 75th anniversary, the Prince and Princess of Wales had the privilege of meeting Aneira Thomas, the first individual born under the NHS, during a heart-warming tea party. The royal couple convened with Mrs Thomas at St Thomas’ Hospital, where they gathered to honour the remarkable achievements and legacy of the NHS.
Born at 00:01 on 5th July 1948 in Carmarthenshire, Aneira Thomas shared her unique connection to the NHS with the Prince and Princess. She revealed that her name, Aneira, was inspired by the NHS founder and then Health Minister, Aneurin Bevan. As she recounted her birth story, Mrs Thomas disclosed the anticipation that surrounded her arrival. “Every maternity ward in the country was waiting for the first baby,” she reminisced. Despite the anxious moments, her birth became a symbol of hope and progress for the nation’s healthcare system.
Expressing her gratitude to the current and former NHS staff present at the tea party, Catherine, Princess of Wales, conveyed a heartfelt message, stating, “I wanted to come here and say thank you.” The event served as a moment of reflection, honouring the dedication and unwavering commitment of the countless individuals who have contributed to the success and resilience of the NHS throughout its illustrious history.
During the occasion, Prince William engaged in conversations with several NHS representatives, including Blanche Hines, a nurse with nearly five decades of service and a member of the Windrush generation. Joined by her daughter and grandson, who also serve in healthcare, Mrs Hines shared her experiences and expressed her pride in their collective commitment to providing quality healthcare services.
Amidst the anniversary celebrations, attention was drawn to the challenges faced by NHS staff, particularly the ongoing disputes over pay, which have led to industrial action. Acknowledging these difficulties, Prince William expressed his understanding of the complex issues, remarking, “I really understood the issues and complexities – particularly with the current challenges we’re facing.” As the NHS Charities Together organised the event, the focus on the wellbeing of the workforce remained paramount, with support services such as psychological aid and counselling being offered to NHS staff.
Simultaneously, the National Archives commemorated this significant milestone by presenting captivating insights into the history and evolution of the NHS. Showcasing their collection at the Kew site, they proudly exhibited the foundational document of the NHS, the Beveridge Report. This display offered a remarkable opportunity for visitors to delve into the archives and gain a deeper understanding of the NHS’s origins and its development on a national scale.
As the NHS’s 75th anniversary brings forth both appreciation and contemplation, it serves as a reminder of the immeasurable value and transformative impact of accessible healthcare for all. The meeting between the Prince and Princess of Wales and Aneira Thomas beautifully encapsulated the spirit of progress and compassion that the NHS embodies. Simultaneously, the National Archives unveiling of historical treasures provides a unique lens through which we can appreciate the journey of the NHS, celebrating the milestones while acknowledging the challenges that lie ahead.
- Photo by Nicolas J Leclercq: Instant images