Barts Health and other NHS staff who were at the centre of the Covid-19 pandemic were included in a special service of commemoration at St Paul’s Cathedral on Monday 5 July, the anniversary of the health service’s beginning.
Led by the Very Reverend Dr David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s and the Right Reverend and Right Honourable Dame Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London, the ceremony recognised the commitment of all those who have played their part in combating coronavirus across the NHS and beyond.
July 5 marked the 73rd anniversary of the foundation of the National Health Service.
Barts Health Head of Chaplaincy Yunus Dudhwala led an act of commitment at the ceremony.
Yunus and Muslim Chaplain Imam Ahmad Faruq Siddiqi, who also joined the ceremony, spent the peak of the pandemic facilitating virtual last farewells and prayers for dying loved ones and their families.
The chaplains across the Trust have played a vital part throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and worked tirelessly to support families and patients through this difficult and emotional period.
Yunus was also called upon to help set up the chaplaincy and bereavement services at the Nightingale in London, and additionally provided guidance nationally at the start of the pandemic to funeral directors on washing and handling the deceased within the Muslim community.
Martin Griffiths CBE, consultant trauma and vascular surgeon atThe Royal London Hospital and local man Frank Charles, who gives Christmas presents to children at Whipps Cross Hospital, were also in attendance.
Martin was recently awarded a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2021 for his work educating young people about the consequences of knife and gun crime.
They were joined by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Duke of Cambridge, NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens, NHS medical director Professor Stephen Powis, England’s chief nurse Ruth May, deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam and other representatives from across the NHS.
Yunus Dudhwala, Head of Chaplaincy at Barts Health, said: “A service of commemoration and reflection, especially on the 73rd anniversary of the NHS, is really important to remind us of this great institution, and the amazing people who have dedicated their lives for the wellbeing of others.
“The NHS receiving the St George’s Cross from Her Majesty The Queen was a fitting tribute to the dedication and sacrifices of healthcare staff over the past 18 months.
“The service was a time to come together, pause, reflect, remember, pray and hope that NHS continues to serve for many years to come.”
The Right Reverend and Right Honourable Dame Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London, said: “In the last year we have felt the loss of connectivity to those we love.
“We have been forced to distance ourselves physically, unable to reach out to family and friends with whom hugs, a hand reached out in care, an arm around a shoulder, would in other times convey love, closeness, compassion and care.
"The NHS is a demonstration of community and of solidarity in society, between generations, between rich and poor – and between people of diverse cultures and ethnic heritage.
“Through the generations, healthcare professionals from more than 200 nationalities have contributed to its workforce. This solidarity – of generations, of rich and poor and of people from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds, is needed not just for a well-functioning society but to enable all human beings to flourish."