ANEIRA Thomas – the first baby born on the NHS – today unveiled a very special Great Western Railway train celebrating the health service’s 75th anniversary.
The Welsh author named Intercity Express Train 800005 after Aneurin Bevan, the minister for health responsible for the launch of the NHS in 1948.
Aneira was born at one minute past midnight on 5 July 1948, making her the first NHS baby born and, to celebrate, her parents named her after the Welsh politician.
Today she travelled from her home in Swansea for the train-naming ceremony at Newport, the closest station GWR calls to Bevan’s Ebbw Vale constituency and birthplace of Tredegar.
Following the ceremony, the Aneurin Bevan train operated a service to London Paddington, calling at Swindon to acknowledge the role the town’s railway industry played in the formation of the NHS.
The Great Western Railway Medical Fund Society (MFS) was formed in 1847 with money raised by direct deductions from the wages of colleagues at the GWR works in Swindon.
Over the next 100 years the MFS developed a host of facilities – from washing baths to doctors and dental surgeries. Having visited the facilities in Swindon, it is reported that Bevan later remarked: “There it was, a complete health service. All we had to do was to expand it to embrace the whole country!”.
Aneira, who spent her career working in the NHS as a mental health nurse and is the author of best-selling book Hold on Edna, said:
“It is such an honour for the 75th anniversary of our NHS to have a train named Aneurin Bevan by GWR. What better compliment to the legacy left to us by the founder of the National Health Service and also the GWR Medical Fund in Swindon, which played a crucial role in getting the wheels in motion.
“This amazing train will forever be a reminder of the great man and the National Health Service that delivers with such skill, care and compassion. Happy 75th Birthday NHS, thank you GWR.”
Welsh Government Minister for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan MS, said:
“Our NHS is cherished by everyone in Wales and we are particularly proud that it was created by a Welshman. So naming this train after Aneurin Bevan is a fitting tribute to the NHS and a great way to celebrate its 75th anniversary in Wales.”
Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust Chief Nurse, Janice Sigsworth, said:
“The NHS remains one of the UK’s proudest achievements and I’m delighted to celebrate the 75th anniversary with our neighbours at Paddington station and GWR.
“The close connection between the station and St Mary’s goes back well over 150 years, before the creation of the NHS itself. The extensive transport links are vital for our patients and staff and are one of the reasons that we’ve developed into a leading provider of clinical care, education and research – and are able to play such an important role in supporting the health and wellbeing of our local community.
“This connection will only get stronger in the future, as we redevelop St Mary’s into a bigger hospital and Paddington becomes a leading hub for life sciences.”
GWR Business Assurance Director, Joe Graham, said:
“It is an honour for us to name this Intercity Express Train after Aneurin ‘Nye’ Bevan and to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the NHS – with which the Great Western has a unique bond.
“As well as our connection to the Great Western Medical Fund, we have a long history of naming trains after Great Westerners, the past and present heroes from across our network.
“It was also such a great honour to welcome Aneira Thomas to Newport station and celebrate her unique place in history as the first baby born on the NHS.”
Transport for Wales Stations Director, Lisa Cleminson, said:
“We were delighted to support this train-naming ceremony and welcome guests to Newport station. Aneurin Bevan is such an important figure in the history of Wales and everyone in the rail industry will be proud to see the Aneurin Bevan train stopping at stations across the South Wales mainline.”