Trust and rail staff join together to mark NHS75

Staff from Imperial College Healthcare attended a special NHS 75 anniversary event at neighboring Paddington Station on Tuesday 4 July, where Aneira Thomas – the first person born under NHS care – unveiled a train named in honour of the founder of the NHS, Aneurin Bevan

The event was a celebration of the NHS’ achievements, as well as the strong connection between St Mary’s Hospital and the station, which goes back over 150 years.

Aneira named the Great Western Railway (GWR) train in honour of the minister for health responsible for the launch of the NHS in 1948. She was born at one minute past midnight on 5 July 1948, making her the first NHS baby born and, to celebrate, her parents named her after the Welsh politician.

She travelled from her home in Swansea for the train-naming ceremony at Newport, the closest station GWR calls to Bevan’s Ebbw Vale constituency and birthplace of Tredegar. Following the ceremony, the Aneurin Bevan train operated a service to London Paddington, where Aneira and the team were met by representatives from Imperial College Healthcare, including chief nurse Janice Sigsworth and a number of nurses who work at St Mary's. 

Janice Sigsworth, chief nurse at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “The NHS remains one of the UK’s proudest achievements and I’m delighted to celebrate the 75th anniversary with our neighbours at Paddington station and GWR.

"The close connection between the station and St Mary's goes back well over 150 years, before the creation of the NHS itself. The extensive transport links are vital for our patients and staff and are one of the reasons that we've developed into a leading provider of clinical care, education and research - and are able to play such an important role in supporting the health and wellbeing of our local community.

“This connection will only get stronger in the future, as we redevelop St Mary’s into a bigger hospital and Paddington becomes a leading hub for life sciences.”

Aneira, who spent her career working in the NHS as a mental health nurse and is the author of best-selling book Hold on Edna, said: “It is such an honour for the 75th anniversary of our NHS to have a train named Aneurin Bevan by GWR. What better compliment to the legacy left to us by the founder of the National Health Service and also the GWR Medical Fund in Swindon, which played a crucial role in getting the wheels in motion.

“This amazing train will forever be a reminder of the great man and the National Health Service that delivers with such skill, care and compassion. Happy 75th Birthday NHS, thank you GWR.”

Joe Graham, GWR business assurance director, said: “It is an honour for us to name this Intercity Express Train after Aneurin ‘Nye’ Bevan and to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the NHS – with which the Great Western has a unique bond.

“As well as our connection to the Great Western Medical Fund, we have a long history of naming trains after Great Westerners, the past and present heroes from across our network.

“It was also such a great honour to welcome Aneira Thomas to Newport station and celebrate her unique place in history as the first baby born on the NHS.”