More than 185,000 parkrunners celebrate the NHS’s 75th anniversary

Hundreds of communities came together at their local parkruns and junior parkruns this weekend to celebrate the NHS’s 75th anniversary.

Across the Saturday events and Sunday junior events 185,015 people took part as walkers, joggers, runners and volunteers, with many more coming along to watch and be part of this special occasion.

11,715 people took part for the very first time, and 24,348 volunteered at many of the more than 1,000 parkrun and junior parkrun events across the UK.

Over 10,000 people participating in ‘parkrun for the NHS’ stated that they were not physically active before joining parkrun. Of those 10,952 people, 921 were joining in for the first time.

More than 22,200 people registered for parkrun within the last week. A 9.75% increase on the previous week and a 71% jump compared to last year.

There were plenty of smiles and laughter, as thousands of participants wore fancy dress or the trademark NHS blue to mark the occasion.

Staff from all parts of the NHS, from doctors to domestics and paramedics to porters, joined the walkers, joggers, runners and volunteers at hundreds of parkruns around the country. Many also used the opportunity to promote the services that the NHS provides and highlight the ways people can support the service, for example joining the NHS Organ Donor Register, giving blood or signing up to research programmes.

The initiative has the backing of health leaders, sports stars and other celebrities, including tennis legend, Sir Andy Murray, Olympic Gold medal winning athlete, Dame Kelly Holmes, decorated Welsh footballer, Helen Ward, TV doctor, Hussain Al-Zubaidi and Oscar winner, James Martin among many others.

‘Parkrun for the NHS’ celebrates this major milestone in the NHS’s history, as well as acknowledging all the staff and volunteers, past and present, who have made the NHS what it is. It also showcases parkrun as a safe and inclusive space for all ages, abilities and backgrounds to be active and social, outdoors.

This is the second time parkrun UK and the NHS have worked together in this way. In 2018, for the 70th birthday of the NHS, an incredible UK-wide celebration was held which saw more than 146,000 people getting involved.

As well as celebrating the NHS’s 75th with ‘parkrun for the NHS’, the weekend was an opportunity to also promote parkrun’s long-standing partnership with the Royal College of GPs. To date, 1,700 GP practices across the UK have signed up to the parkrun practice initiative and committed to signposting staff and patients to parkrun events as a way of improving mental and physical health.

Chrissie Wellington, Global Head of Health and Wellbeing at parkrun said: “What an incredible weekend! From the smiles, the balloons, the bunting, the sea of blue – parkrun and junior parkrun events pulled out all the stops to celebrate the NHS’s 75th anniversary. It was so wonderful to see thousands of people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities taking part in every corner of the UK, many for the very first time. And it wasn’t only a fantastic birthday celebration – it was a celebration of community, of togetherness, of the joy of movement, of partnership and of hope and positivity.”

Dame Ruth May DBE, Chief Nursing Officer for England said: “We would like to thank the thousands of people who showed their support for ‘parkrun for the NHS’, from the runners, joggers and walkers through to the volunteers and spectators. It was great to see so many people helping to mark the NHS’s 75th birthday in such a special way.”

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, National Medical Director, NHS England said: “I was delighted to join the Clapham Common parkrun on the day. The atmosphere was excellent and there were so many people in NHS blue and fancy dress. We hope those people who came for the first time will come back. We know physical activity is great for your body and mind. Some is good – more is better still.”

Photo credits: parkrun UK