70th Birthday Party for the NHS, Exeter Library, 30 June 2018

The National Health Service turned 70 this year. To celebrate, the Wellcome Trust-funded Waiting Times team and the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health collaborated with colleagues at Libraries Unlimited and University of Warwick to organise a birthday party.

This was be no ordinary do, however. As part of our public engagement strategy, we organised a host of activities to mark the occasion, to explore the history and future of the NHS, and to collect memories and narratives of service use (and waiting) over the past 70 years.

Stalls for the public included:

  • Card-making – where people could create everything from birthday to “get well soon” cards
  • Video reel – marking 70 years of the NHS on and through film
  • A consultation room – visitors could diagnose the NHS, prescribe it treatment, and prognosticate on its future
  • Message recording – visitors lefts messages for the NHS or recorded a memory for our archives
  • A waiting room and buffet area – like a GP waiting room, only with birthday cake, crisps, squash and – token concession to healthy eating! – carrot sticks.
  • Story-writing workshop – Riptide new writing journal ran a stall, with some stories being included in a special issue
  • Children’s story-time – a medicine-themed story read by Library staff.



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