Great Britain’s sporting heroes have come together to mark the 75th birthday of the NHS by sharing their own personal stories of thanks for the much-loved British institution.
In a new film released for the 75th anniversary of the NHS (Wednesday 5 July), athletes from Team GB, ParalympicsGB and Special Olympics GB have expressed their gratitude for the work that the NHS has done in supporting them throughout their lives and careers.
Among the tributes are poignant messages from sporting legends Sir Andy Murray OBE, Jonnie Peacock MBE, Sam Quek MBE.
Britain’s most successful tennis star, Sir Andy Murray OBE shared his thanks to the NHS and noted the important role the NHS plays in supporting families across the UK. He said: “To me the NHS is very important, they’ve always been there for my family when we’ve really needed them.
“Whether that’s been in the middle of the night when one of my children is ill and we need to see someone urgently, they’re always there. The staff have been incredible and are always so helpful.”
Two-time Paralympic champion, Jonnie Peacock MBE also shared his appreciation for the NHS. Peacock had his right leg amputated below the knee as a child, having contracted meningitis. He has since gone on to represent GB at three Paralympic Games, winning gold at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Games.
He said: “I have been involved in the NHS because they literally saved my life at the age of five. The NHS means my life to me. I simply wouldn’t be here without it.”
NHS chief executive, Amanda Pritchard, said: “It is incredible to see this gratitude for the amazing work that our NHS staff do and, as we reach our milestone 75th birthday, I am very proud of every member of staff who make the NHS what it is – the biggest care team in the world.
“It’s a team that has managed unprecedented challenges in the pandemic, led the world with its delivery of the covid-19 vaccination programme and is now working extremely hard to recover services.
“I’m very grateful to the sporting stars who are sharing their appreciation for our dedicated and determined staff to celebrate 75 years of the NHS.”
The film will be shown across the Piccadilly Lights billboard in central London on Wednesday 5 July, as well as the NHS social media channels. It also includes Special Olympics GB athlete, Mitch Camp, who won gold in the long jump at the Special Olympics World Games in LA. He said: “I’ve been involved with the NHS from an early age having gone through many operations, but having those operations made me the person I am today.”
Karé Adenegan, who won multiple medals in Para athletics at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, made special mention of all the support that the NHS gives to premature babies, having been born premature in a neonatal clinic herself. She said: “I really appreciate the great work that the NHS does to support premature babies and to also support the families that really struggle during such a scary time. One word that comes to mind when I think of the NHS is, ‘grateful’, because the work that they do is so important and they’re literally saving lives day by day.”
Team GB’s Abi Burton was part of the Women’s Rugby Sevens side at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. She has been cared for by the NHS following a tough period of illness in 2022. She said: “This time last year I got diagnosed with a brain illness. So, I spent three and a half months in hospital, one month in the ICU and the rest of the time in a stroke and neurology unit. During that time the NHS nurses and doctors and just even the people that bought my food every day, they were like my family. They were the people that I saw the most throughout the day.”
Team GB hockey star, Olympic gold medallist, and mother of two, Sam Quek MBE gave a special shout out to the NHS and the role the institution plays in supporting new mothers and families. She said: “The NHS means to me so much, they have impacted my life and my friend’s and family’s life hugely. I’ve had two children, they’re now one and two and they helped me bring them into this world in a very healthy and successful way. So, thank you so much to the NHS.”
Modern Pentathlete brothers, Joe and Henry Choong were also among the big names to share their message of thanks and wish the NHS Happy Birthday. Joe won gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The film can be seen on the NHS YouTube channel or below: