‘Parkrun for the NHS’ – celebrating the NHS’s 75th anniversary

The NHS in England is delighted to have teamed up with parkrun UK and the NHS in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to mark the NHS’s 75th anniversary this July.

NHS staff and volunteers, as well as local communities, will be encouraged to ‘parkrun for the NHS’ at parkrun events on Saturday 8 July or junior parkrun events on Sunday 9 July.

‘parkrun for the NHS’ is an opportunity for parkruns and their local communities to acknowledge the huge contribution that the NHS makes to the health of the nation and celebrate all the staff and volunteers, past and present, who have made the NHS what it is.

This is the second time parkrun UK and the NHS have worked together in this way. In 2018, for the 70th anniversary of the NHS, an incredible UK-wide celebration was held which saw more than 146,000 people taking part as walkers, joggers, runners and volunteers, many of whom had never been to a parkrun before. The celebration was spearheaded by former nursing assistant, regular parkrunner and Olympic gold medallist, Dame Kelly Holmes.

As part of this nationwide celebration people will be encouraged to take part in parkrun and junior parkrun events. There were some amazing sights during the NHS’s 70th anniversary event, with many in fancy dress or NHS trademark blue, and this year’s celebrations will be no different!

Many local NHS teams will be on hand at their local parkruns to provide information about the NHS as well as signposting to all the ways communities can help support the service such as by signing up to NHS research programmes.

‘parkrun for the NHS’ will not only recognise and celebrate this huge milestone for the NHS, it will also encourage many more people to get involved with their local parkrun or junior parkrun and to make steps towards a more healthy, active lifestyle.

parkrun already has a well-established relationship with GPs, which sees GP surgeries partnered with their local parkrun events in the ‘parkrun practice’ initiative. Both patients and staff are signposted to local parkruns to improve both mental and physical health. 

Dame Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England said: “For 75 years, the NHS, its staff and volunteers have been there for us. From the midwives who help bring us into the world, the GPs, practice nurses and pharmacists who are our first port of call when we are sick, the nurses, doctors and other clinicians who use their expertise to care for us in our time of need, the porters and cleaners who keep our hospitals moving, and the hundreds of thousands of dedicated staff and volunteers in between.

“Therefore, I’m delighted that the NHS has teamed up with parkrun UK in a celebration of the NHS’s 75th anniversary in July. I know it will be popular and I encourage as many people as possible – from local communities to NHS staff and volunteers – to get involved, whether it’s by walking, jogging or running the course, or lending a hand as a volunteer. Or just coming along to watch and soak up the atmosphere.

“As well as being a great way to thank NHS staff and volunteers during the NHS’s 75th year, we hope ‘parkrun for the NHS’ will help encourage people to consider being more active. We know physical activity is great for your body and mind. Some is good – more is better still”.

Chrissie Wellington, Global Head of Health and Wellbeing at parkrun, said: “We are thrilled to be joining forces with the NHS across the UK to celebrate its 75th anniversary. We know that participating in parkrun is incredibly beneficial to people’s mental and physical health, and best of all the events are local, they are accessible, they are free, and they are fun! They’re also there every week, and we’d love to see those taking part continue to join us in the future. ‘parkrun for the NHS’ is the perfect way for us to increase awareness of parkrun across the health sector while at the same time paying tribute to the enormous and incredibly valuable contribution of NHS staff and volunteers to the health of our nation”.

Wales’ Chief Medical Officer, Dr Frank Atherton, said: “Local parkruns right across Wales give us the chance to keep ourselves fitter and healthier, for free.

“Keeping fit and active is good for our physical and mental health and can help reduce the risk of conditions like obesity and heart disease.

“As the NHS faces a range of pressures, this is one step we can take to improve our health and wellbeing”.

Maria McIlgorm, Northern Ireland Chief Nursing Officer, said: “I would like to encourage as many people as possible across Northern Ireland to ‘think active’, get out and enjoy your local parkrun as part of the NHS 75 celebrations.

“It is a fitting opportunity to not only come together and mark this great milestone, but to encourage and challenge all of us to lead healthier and more active lifestyles.

“As the NHS marks its 75th birthday this year, I want to send a message of thanks to all health and social care staff for the tremendous contribution you make every day to patients across Northern Ireland”. 

For more information

We will share more information about the celebration in the coming months, but please do put the dates in your diary and start thinking about how you might help mark this very special occasion!

For more information about parkrun, visit www.parkrun.org.uk.

Infographic - parkrun for the NHS