Celebrating 75 Years of the NHS: Personal Journeys into Nursing at TEDxNHS

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In honour of the NHS 75th birthday, Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF) celebrated 75 years of nursing and midwifery at TEDxNHS Undivided. FNF supported TEDxNHS by subsidising 75 tickets so that those with less means could attend this year’s talks. We also held a side-bar event to share two moving stories about journeys into nursing. These talks provided a poignant reminder of the compassion and dedication of those who have chosen nursing or midwifery as their calling.

A Christmas miracle

Bev Summerhayes, an FNF Scholar, shared a moving talk about how an act of compassion and kindness from a Ward Sister inspired her to become the nurse she is today. Bev spoke about when her mother was in hospital when she was a little girl and how the Ward Sister moved mountains so that she and her sisters could wake up on Christmas morning with her mother in her ward.

“This miracle happened due to the never-ending tenacity of the ward sister who fought to keep the family together. She managed to ring-fence a four bedded bay. The girls could sleep by their mother’s side on Christmas eve!”

Her story was a testament to the unwavering compassion and care that nurses embody. It was the care, empathy, and expertise of the Ward Sister that inspired Bev to pursue a career in nursing. Today, she is a Deputy Divisional Director for Nursing and Quality at an NHS Trust and her little sister followed in her footsteps, working as a midwife. Bev’s talk highlighted the role nurses play in not only treating illnesses but also providing emotional support to patients and their families. Her journey was a shining example and reminder of how an act of kindness can last long in the memory and can even shape one’s path and future career.

A story of a nurse’s uniform

FNF’s CEO Greta Westwood shared her lifelong ambition of becoming a nurse. As a young girl, Greta dressed up and played nurses and always dreamed one day of putting on the uniform for real. At TEDxNHS Undivided, she took the side-bar audience on her journey into nursing, bouncing back from an illness that ultimately saw her leave education at 16.

Professor Greta Westwood is now the CEO of Florence Nightingale Foundation with over 40 years’ experience in nursing. Her nurse’s uniform hangs on the back of her office door, alongside her PhD gown, serving as a reminder of her achievement and the principles of nursing. 

“The story of this nurse’s uniform continues, a symbol of dreams fulfilled, lives touched, and the enduring power of compassion in the world of nursing”.

Greta’s talk was a celebration of determination and the pursuit of one’s dreams, no matter the obstacles. Her story resonated with many in the audience who may have their own dreams waiting to be realised. 


These two personal stories served as a beautiful tribute to the NHS and the countless nurses who have dedicated their lives to providing healthcare to the people of the UK. They reminded us that nursing is not just a profession; it’s a calling driven by a deep desire to make a positive impact on the lives of others.

As we celebrated 75 years of the NHS, the Florence Nightingale Foundation sidebar talks at TEDxNHS were a poignant reminder of the human side of healthcare and the extraordinary individuals who continue to shape its future. They demonstrated that the spirit of compassion, resilience, and lifelong learning is at the heart of nursing, ensuring that the NHS continues to thrive for generations to come.

Note: this blog was first shared on TEDxNHS website.