Page last updated at 17:36 GMT, Wednesday, 24 September 2008 18:36 UK

First NHS baby at Labour meeting

Aneira Thomas
Aneira Thomas received a standing ovation from the conference

Aneira Thomas, the first baby born under the NHS 60 years ago, has addressed the Labour Party conference.

Mrs Thomas told delegates nurses asked her mother if she could be named Aneira, after NHS founder Nye Bevan.

She said her mother often called her "my NHS baby" and that until the age of nine or ten she thought the father of the health service was her own father.

Mrs Thomas was born at a minute past midnight on 5 July 1948 at Amman Valley Hospital, Carmarthenshire.

She was introduced by UK Health Secretary Alan Johnson as "the very first person never to have known Britain without a universal health service".

She remarked that "as Nye Bevan's vision for the NHS came into fruition, my bottom was being smacked at the Aman Valley hospital, giving me life".

First NHS baby speaks to Labour party conference

Delegates were visibly moved when she described how her mother had told her she could still "hear the screams" from when her grandfather, a miner, had broken his leg and been held down and operated on on the kitchen table without anaesthetic.

"There was no NHS then," Mrs Thomas said.

"The doctor needed to be paid for his treatment and there was no money available so my grandfather had to sell the family piano to pay the bill.

"All the children were crying as the piano was removed - that was their only entertainment", she added.

'Keep faith'

Mrs Thomas said she had had "good and bad experiences" of the NHS but was certain Bevan would be proud of the service today.

She urged the party to "keep the faith" before received a standing ovation and thanks from Gordon Brown.

Mrs Thomas forged a life-long link with the health service becoming a mental health nurse, along with three of her sisters, and her daughter is now studying to be a paramedic.

Over the summer Mrs Thomas, who now lives in Loughour, near Swansea, launched NHS birthday celebrations by visiting the maternity unit at the city's Singleton Hospital and handing out "Born in Wales" bibs to new mothers.


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