On Monday 5 July 1948, health secretary Aneurin Bevan visited Manchester’s Trafford Park Hospital to talk to patients and announce that the NHS was born.
He unveiled a service that would be available to all, free at the point of need and financed entirely from taxation, with people paying into it according to their means.
Meanwhile, on that same day 80 miles away at 33 King George’s Road, Rossington, Doncaster, Elizabeth Fiddler was giving birth to Alan, the youngest of hers and husband Joe’s three sons.
Elizabeth – or ‘Cissy’ as she was known – lived to the ripe old age of 98 and would jokingly refer to Alan as their ‘free’ baby as the NHS paid for her maternity costs – unlike when she gave birth to older sons George and Joe Jnr. Before July 1948 mothers wishing to have a doctor in attendance at childbirth had to pay not only their fee, but also for any medicine they required.
Seven decades on, Alan and the NHS will on Thursday this week celebrate their shared 70th birthday, before Alan becomes a special guest at a celebratory NHS70 event we’ve organised at the weekend.
Although he didn’t follow a healthcare career, starting out as an apprentice joiner and then moving into housing management, the NHS has been a big part of Alan’s life. He married Pauline, a registered nurse who worked at Doncaster Royal Infirmary (DRI) from the 1960s to 1980s, and the couple, who now live at Branton, have four sons – Sean, Ashley and twins Ellery and Brewis.
The twins – now aged 32 – were born 26 weeks premature at DRI and at the time doctors thought their chances of survival were slim. They were quickly transferred to a hospital at Nottingham for several months of specialist care.
Ellery went on to become a healthcare assistant at Bassetlaw Hospital and his wife, Hazel, is qualified nurse working in the Doncaster community.
Brewis has cerebral palsy, but has beaten the odds and expectations to enjoy life, though his various disabilities means he requires constant care, which the NHS pays for.
Alan is a big supporter of the NHS. We are delighted that he’s accepted our invitation to come and cut a specially baked NHS70 birthday cake at Flourish Enterprises’ Summer Fayre and NHS 70 family fun day at Woodfield Park, Tickhill Road Hospital on Sunday 8 July at 12 noon.
Everyone is invited and entry is free. It opens at 11am and runs until 4pm, with marquees and activities for all the family, including a giant ‘operation’ game. More at www.doncasterccg.nhs.uk/get-involved
I’ll be there, please come and join me.