NHS Charities Together held its biggest ever NHS Big Tea to celebrate the NHS’s 73rd birthday.

More than 5,000 NHS Big Tea parties were registered to take place, either virtually or in person, to mark the big event on July 5.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire & Rescue Service joined the NHS Big Tea

Community events spanned the length and breadth of the UK, ranging from parties in schools and care homes to hospitals and businesses, keen to join the UK-wide outpouring of support and show immense gratitude to the NHS.

Among them were youngsters at St Anne’s School Chelmsford (pictured above) who dressed in colours of the rainbow for their NHS Big Tea and raised over £600 for NHS Charities Together.

Fire crews from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire & Rescue Service also got involved on the day, while staff at St Helens & Whiston Hospital in Merseyside celebrated the NHS Big Tea with hand delivered treats.

The central event was a special royal Big Tea at Buckingham Palace with HRH The Duke of Cambridge, joint Royal Patron of NHS Charities Together.

L-R Em Wilkinson-Brice and Dr Mohammed Abbas Khaki

Mugs of thanks

Celebrities joined NHS staff and social media users in raising a mug of thanks for the NHS Big Tea, a collective shout out to NHS champions who work tirelessly to care for others and will continue to do so.

Em Wilkinson-Brice, NHS Deputy Chief People Officer, posted on Twitter:

“Today I’m raising a cuppa to all #OurNHSPeople to say #HappyNHSBirthday whether this is your first day joining the NHS or you have given many years service…”

Dr Mohammed Abbas Khaki also posted a mug of thanks message:

“Free at the point of care. With a smile somewhere under our masks. Fuelled by cups of tea and love for the NHS.”

High profile support

Familiar faces supporting the campaign included Stephen Fry, NHS Charities Together Charity Champion Jordan Henderson and the England football team, as well as the actress Olivia Colman and Dr Alex George.

St Helens & Whiston Hospital in Merseyside celebrated the NHS Big Tea

Such was the overwhelming outpouring of support for the campaign, the hashtag #NHSBigTea trended on Twitter alongside #NHSBirthday and #NHS73.

On the day, Ellie Orton OBE, CEO of NHS Charities Together, attended a service of commemoration for the NHS at St Paul’s Cathedral in London before being a guest at the royal Big Tea. She said:

“Support for this year’s NHS Big Tea has been truly overwhelming. It has been heartening and inspiring to see individuals of all ages and backgrounds join NHS charities and communities in raising mugs of thanks and holding Covid safe events to celebrate the NHS’s birthday.

“I thank everyone for their support as we are grateful for every penny raised to help NHS charities be there for NHS staff who need us now more than ever, and will continue to need us in the aftermath of this pandemic.”

Supporting the NHS

NHS Charities Together has so far allocated £125 million in a range of projects supporting staff, patients and volunteers.

Through its 240 NHS member charities covering the UK, projects include counselling services and helplines to help support the mental health of staff, bereavement support for families who have lost loved ones, long-Covid research, and funding thousands of emergency volunteers. Funding has also supported staff with practical needs like food, drink and a place to rest, enabling staff to continue with their vital life-saving work.

The evidence shows these projects are already making a huge difference for frontline staff, with over three in ten NHS staff surveyed saying they most value the counselling support and support with practical needs, like food and drink, that have been provided by NHS charities.