A South Central Ambulance Charity volunteer from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire has been honoured by Their Royal Highnesses The Prince and Princess of Wales at a very special NHS Big Tea party, marking the 75th anniversary of the NHS (Wednesday 5th July).
Robin Mugridge, 54, started volunteering at the age of seven and today is a volunteer Community First Responder for South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. Having been trained by paramedics, Robin attends critical incidents to initiate patient care prior to the arrival of an ambulance and provides emergency treatment when every second counts.
Hosted by NHS Charities Together – the national charity caring for the NHS, of which Their Royal Highnesses are Patrons – and television presenter Mel Giedroyc, the event was attended by members of the workforce and patients representing myriad achievements of the NHS and NHS charities over the last 75 years. It was held in the wellbeing garden of St Thomas’ Hospital in London – a wellbeing initiative funded by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity.
Robin’s role has been supported by funding from NHS Charities Together, who fund some of the equipment volunteers use to help patients when every second counts, and he says that the feeling you get when you save a life is next to none.
Robin said: “Today has been a wonderful occasion with glorious weather, lovely cake and with some very special guests! It was an honour to be able to discuss my role, because I’m so proud of being part of a team that helps to save lives – it doesn’t get much better than that. Charitable fundraising is critical to our role, and we wouldn’t exist without it, because the NHS doesn’t get any core funding for Community First Responders. The support from NHS Charities Together has been invaluable to our charity to help fund this vital service.”
Other guests The Prince and Princess met with included Aneira Thomas, the first baby born on the NHS, to pioneers in research and those on the frontline tackling Covid-19. The guest list honoured staff past and present, including three generations of NHS workers from one family – inspired by grandmother and former nurse of nearly 50 years, Blanche Hines, who was part of the Windrush generation.
A surprise visit for those invited, The Prince and Princess even arrived early to help lay the tables and put finishing touches on a birthday cake. Their Royal Highnesses discussed current challenges and thanked staff for the work they continue to do, and – in the spirit of the tea party – even attempted to settle the long-standing scone debate regarding jam or cream first, with The Princess voting for jam, and Prince William preferring whatever is closest. They concluded their visit with a video message for the entire NHS: “Wishing everyone a very happy 75th birthday for the NHS. Thank you so much for all you do.”
Ellie Orton OBE, Chief Executive of NHS Charities Together, said: “We want to say a huge thank you to our Royal Patrons, and everyone who’s helped celebrate the 75th anniversary of our beloved NHS this year. As the national charity caring for the NHS, NHS Charities Together is here for anyone who wants to give something back to its people, who all give so much to us, and that extra support has never been so important. It includes providing staff psychologists, counselling, peer support training and so much more.
“It’s not too late to arrange your own NHS Big Tea party and raise vital funds to support NHS charities – find out how you can get involved at nhscharitiestogether.co.uk.”
Eurovision and former Great-British Bake Off presenter Mel Giedroyc was the host for the event on behalf of NHS Charities Together, and said: “The NHS is part of our DNA in this country so it was an utter privilege to be involved in this NHS Big Tea surprise to celebrate 75 years of the NHS and NHS charities. People were so delighted and it was just a quintessentially lovely, British day, celebrating our health service that we all love so much. I hope we will continue to love and take care of it for the next 750 years, because it’s something truly precious – and what would we do without it? I have it to thank for my hernia operations!”
The Prince and Princess of Wales became Royal Patrons for NHS Charities Together in December 2020, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Since then, their support for the charity has helped to shine a light on the incredible and ongoing contribution of the NHS workforce and the role of NHS charities in helping the NHS go further for everyone.
Now entering its sixth year, the NHS Big Tea brings the nation together to celebrate the NHS and raise funds to provide the extra support needed for staff, patients, and volunteers. All funds raised from the NHS Big Tea contribute to key projects supporting the incredible NHS workforce, the long-term recovery of the NHS following Covid-19, and projects improving care for patients and communities.
To find out more about the work of NHS charities, or how you can host your own NHS Big Tea event pack, please visit www.nhscharitiestogether.co.uk