Page last updated at 15:24 GMT, Saturday, 5 July 2008 16:24 UK

Bevan plaque for NHS anniversary

Aneira Thomas, first baby born in the NHS helps celebrate her and its 60th birthday
Aneira Thomas, the first baby born in the NHS, celebrated her own 60th birthday

A plaque to mark 60 years of the NHS has been unveiled in Tredegar, the birthplace of the service's founder Aneurin Bevan.

It is set on a new memorial stone at the site where the former MP held meetings to speak to his constituents.

Health minister Edwina Hart, who will unveil the plaque later, said it was a fitting tribute to the area's MP.

Tredegar town clerk Dr John Evans said: "We are very proud. The NHS is the envy of the world."

The new stone stands near the Aneurin Bevan memorial stones at the top of Sirhowy Hill.

The four stones were placed there in the 1970s to represent the MP and the three major towns in his constituency - Ebbw Vale, Rhymney and Tredegar.

The new stone, like the originals, comes from Trefil quarry, but is smaller, standing around 6ft (1.82m).

Aneurin Bevan
He said he would 'Tredegarise' the whole of the health service of Britain
Dr John Evans, on Aneurin Bevan

Ms Hart said: "It is a fitting tribute to the man and to Tredegar, which is often described as the inspiration of the NHS, to be here today to unveil this new stone to mark this very special occasion."

Aneurin Bevan's plans for the NHS were inspired by the work of the Tredegar Medical Aid Society, which gave healthcare to local workers in return for a small weekly fee.

Dr Evans said of Bevan: "Tredegar town council is proud to commemorate the magnificent achievement of our most famous son.

"Nye's vision brought healthcare within the reach of the poorest members of society. Health was no longer the preserve of the rich.

"He saw it could work locally and he said he would 'Tredegarise' the whole of the health service of Britain."

Dave Galligan, head of health at Unison, which helped organise the event with the town council, said: "The NHS is a success story and a wonderful institution. We should applaud those such as Bevan at the foresight and integrity that led to today's NHS."

Attending the plaque unveiling and celebrating her own 60th birthday was Aneira Thomas, the first baby born in the NHS - just after midnight on 5 July 1948.

The ceremony included music from Tredegar Town Band, Tredegar Comprehensive School choir and Cardiff's Red Choir.

A message from Michael Foot, Aneurin Bevan's successor as the area's MP was read, along with poetry from local author Patrick Jones.

Celebrations

Meanwhile, First Minister Rhodri Morgan paid tribute to Aneurin Bevan and said he hoped the NHS in Wales today would make him proud.

"In some ways it's very obvious that we have tried to adhere to Nye Bevan's founding principles," he told BBC Radio Wales.

"Which is why you have free prescriptions in Wales, maybe even free hospital parking you could say was very much along the lines of Bevan's vision of a hospital service that was free to all.

"So I think we're working along the lines in a way that Nye Bevan would be proud of.

The plaque, unveiled in Tredega
The plaque, unveiled in Tredegar on Saturday afternoon

"In other ways of course Nye Bevan could never have anticipated either the technology we have available for prolonging people's lives now nor some of the new problems that were not around in his day.

"They are the 'diseases of prosperity' like obesity, the obesity epidemic, because prosperity brings its own problems in a way that would never have been imagined in 1948."

Meanwhile, events are also taking place around Wales to mark the NHS anniversary.

The North Wales NHS Trust is giving every baby born at Wrexham Maelor Hospital a teddy bear, and a giant birthday card will be signed by staff working at the time of the anniversary.

Cakes have been given to every community hospital in Powys to hold a special afternoon tea for patients.

And in Cardiff, Velindre Cancer Centre is holding a Diamond Ball, followed by an auction and raffle, with prizes including lunch with the Wales rugby team.


SEE ALSO
Historic 'model' NHS office saved
25 Jul 05 |  South East Wales
Bevan's memory lives in home town
01 Jul 08 |  South East Wales
Bevan is ultimate Welsh hero
01 Mar 04 |  Wales

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