08 July 2023

Health officials join Parkrun in Belfast to mark 75th anniversary of the NHS

08 July 2023

Senior officials in Northern Ireland joined a special edition of Parkrun to mark the 75th anniversary of the health service.

The weekly Parkrun events across the UK on Saturday morning were themed to mark the anniversary.

The Department of Health’s permanent secretary Peter May and chief nursing officer Maria McIlgorm joined runners at the Stormont edition.

It comes after a host of events to mark the anniversary, including a reception at Parliament Buildings attended by six-year-old Daithi Mac Gabhann who inspired a change in the organ donation laws in Northern Ireland.

Mr May welcomed the opportunity for people to gather together to show their support for the health service.

“It’s really good that Parkrun is joining with the NHS today to mark 75 years of the NHS being in existence,” he said.

“It’s a chance for people to come together to show their support for the organisation and to take part in some physical activity which is something we all think is great for everybody’s health.

“One of the great benefits of my role is that I see the incredible things that people do in health and social care every day despite the many challenges that we have. I don’t shy away from those, for the vast of people when they actually receive the treatment it is first class and free at the point of use.

“The challenge of course is that we meet more people’s needs more quickly than we can at the moment.”

Mr May said it was the second Parkrun he had taken part in, joking: “It’s going to be hard work.”

Parkrun volunteer and runner Phil Cairnduff, 36, from Dundonald received a liver transplant when he was 18.

“I had been in Africa and picked something up there, came back home very sick and had to be flown to London for an emergency transplant, but I lived to tell the tale,” he said.

“The recovery was long and painful, it was daunting but my progress was good and got back to where I was.

“I used to enjoy running before the transplant but didn’t take it too seriously, since the transplant it has become my passion and I have taken part in the British and the World Transplant Games.

“A big part of the transplant is the fact you have received a gift from someone you don’t know, the organ donor.

“A lot of my running is to honour them because I owe it all to them.

“I have always had a great admiration for the health service, they have always been there for me.

“I know times are tough at the moment but the frontline staff are incredibly hard working, I have the utmost respect for them, and I really hope the people who manage it can do things to protect and save it as best they can.”

Stormont Parkrun event director Alison Canning said it was a celebratory event.

“We do have some special visitors this morning from the NHS and also some promoting organ transplant and donation,” she said.

“Parkrun here has been running since August 2015, it’s good to be able to honour the health service today.”

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