Celebrating 75 Years of the NHS and 80 Years of our District Hospital

Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust and Salisbury Cathedral are holding a special service to mark the 75th anniversary of the NHS and 80 years since the US Army opened a hospital in Odstock.

The service, which starts at 5:30pm on Monday 26th June, is a wonderful opportunity for the community to come together and join health and care staff to celebrate this significant milestone of our National Health Service, which was founded on 5th July in 1948.

This ecumenical service is open to all communities in South Wiltshire, North and East Dorset and South West Hampshire and warm welcome will be given to all faiths and those with none.

The service will celebrate a year of anniversaries as it is 80 years since the hospital on Odstock Road opened as a US military hospital supporting D Day and the liberation of Europe, the closing of the city centre Infirmary 30 years ago, as well as the 70th anniversary of Radio Odstock, the hospital’s radio station.

The service will be led by the Dean and Cathedral clergy, with members of the Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust Chaplaincy, and will include choir music and readings of specially commissioned poetry and prose, which will evoke the history of the NHS in the community, and the experiences of patients over the years.

Speaking about the service, Stacey Hunter, CEO Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust said:

“We are delighted to be once again joining with Salisbury Cathedral to mark this important anniversary, 75 years of the NHS, the first universal health system to be available to all, free at the point of delivery. Today the NHS treats over a million people a day in England. It touches all of our lives.

We welcome everyone in the community to come to the Cathedral to celebrate with us at this ecumenical service.”

The Very Revd Nicholas Papadopulos, Dean of Salisbury said:

“We are delighted to be marking this important anniversary with our friends and colleagues from the NHS, celebrating their achievements over the last 75 years, and thanking them for their daily contribution to Salisbury and its community. We saw at first hand the dedication of their staff and volunteers during COVID, when they ran their vaccination sessions in this building, but their work is ever present in our daily lives, caring for friends, colleagues and loved ones - available to all, given to all.”

This special service will have new specially commissioned readings from Paula B Stanic, new poetry from Martin Figura and Saili Katebe and the Cathedral Choir.

One of these fantastic artists, Paula B Stanic was particularly interested in platforming the voices of the volunteers who work in such a wide range of roles around the hospital. She spoke to Odstock Radio saying:

“After some lively talks with staff and helpers at Radio Odstock, I was inspired to write a piece mixing created text and verbatim - with the volunteers at its heart."

In the piece, three characters, Eli, a hospital archivist, Alex, a hospital radio presenter, and Jesse, a volunteer ward support volunteer/Ward Buddy, discuss their experiences and stories of other volunteers they knew. 

“I explain to our visitors, we’re run by people who love the radio, love music or what this does. They do this alongside full or part time work. I see visitors’ expressions change, they realise the value. And no one wants thanks. But it is something when someone respects the value. Our hospital radio station has been running for seventy years by people recognising that, sharing their love and having fun.”

The service starts at 5:30pm on Monday 26th June and is a great way to come together to celebrate as a community and support our amazing health service. 



The service included Wiltshire poet Saili Katebe’s first reading of his newly commissioned work that looked at how the faces in the hospital and the community have changed over the past eight decades. Salisbury District Hospital’s poet in residence Martin Figura, also read his commissioned work, a poem about the history of the hospital.

Saili Katebe said of the service, “Being part of the project was a privilege. Taking up space in the Salisbury Cathedral for the celebration felt like a special punctuation to the project. It felt important to share the piece in that space with that audience. I don’t attend many services, but the message and throughline of the service honoured the moment and will certainly be a highlight for me.”

📷 Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust

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