A VERY special birthday for the NHS has been celebrated in Andover.

Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs hospitals in Andover, Basingstoke and Winchester, marked the 70th birthday of the NHS on Thursday last week as it sought to recognise the compassion, dedication and skill of its staff, which helps to make the NHS so special.

There were ‘street’ parties held on wards and departments, tree planting ceremonies and more as the celebrations culminated in a service at Winchester Cathedral dedicated to NHS staff.

Commemorative trees were planted at all three hospital sites on Thursday last week in honour of the landmark occasion and as a way for staff, patients and visitors to look forward to the next 70 years while the sustainability team at Hampshire Hospitals have also brightened up the hospital grounds at all three sites, including introducing wild flower areas and hanging baskets on each site, which feature messages of recognition and thanks to Hampshire Hospitals’ staff written by colleagues and visitors.

In Andover, the tree was planted by Alex Whitfield, chief executive of Hampshire Hospitals.

“Street” parties were held in wards and departments across the three hospitals where staff and patients celebrated 70 years of the NHS with decorations, birthday cakes and more.

Some ward staff stepped back in time into old uniforms and created historic displays proudly presenting the history of the NHS and their hospital, with prizes awarded to the ‘best dressed’ areas.

The NHS70 service at Winchester Cathedral on July 5 celebrated the past, present and future of the NHS, highlighting the role that the service has in the community and recognising the contribution of NHS staff.

As part of the service, chairs and non-executive directors from neighbouring NHS organisations recited a poem by Michael Rosen, These are the Hands which was commissioned for the 60th anniversary of the NHS while the Basingstoke Hospital Male Voice Choir also sang a rendition of Stand by Me.

Alex Whitfield, chief executive of HHFT said: “We are rightly proud that the NHS has provided care to millions of people over the past 70 years, regardless of wealth or background and I hope it will continue to do so for many years to come.”

Elizabeth Padmore added: “The NHS is an institution which delivers outstanding care and we are so proud of the part Hampshire Hospitals plays in caring for our community. It has been a pleasure to celebrate NHS70 with staff, patients and visitors in this special anniversary month, and I look forward to continuing to recognise the remarkable compassion, dedication, skill and hard work of our diverse staff and volunteers every day.”

The celebrations started early on June 25 with a Staff Focus Week – a whole week of activities dedicated to celebrating, thanking and recognising staff for all for the contributions they make to support patients, visitors and colleagues each and every day.