20 July 2024

NHS 75th anniversary Cathedral service will premiere a newly commissioned work by Wiltshire poet Saili Katebe

The special service being held by Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust and Salisbury Cathedral to mark the 75th anniversary of the NHS and 80 years since the US Army opened a hospital in Odstock will include the first reading of newly commissioned work by poet and performer Saili Katebe, celebrating the anniversary.

This work looks at how the faces in the hospital and the community have changed over the past eight decades.

Saili said: “The ‘changing faces of the NHS’ is a sentence that I can connect to on a personal level as a first-generation immigrant whose mother came into the NHS from our homeland, Zambia. Looking at the history of Salisbury Hospital and listening to stories continues to lead me into exploring this conversation and shaping the poem.”

He created the poem through research into the hospital’s history and interviews with staff from diverse backgrounds.

He added: “I am excited to stand up and share this poem. Reading it at the service will feel like an extension of the poem and its inspirations, the broadening faces and voices of a community.”

Here is an excerpt of the poem, ‘All the Faces’:

There is a city within the city, a host
of cartographers reshaping the history
from the first flag to the last, we salute
the changing of the wards,
the winds of change
that have rearranged the odds

of finding a square footage of home
away from home in the halls of
Old Odstock. Time has tempered
the topography of this city’s mouth,

Listen to the Changing faces of its history.

The service will begin at 5:30pm on Monday 26th June at Salisbury Cathedral. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the community to come together and join staff and volunteers to celebrate this significant milestone of our National Health Service, which was founded on 5th July in 1948.

It will be a service open to all of our communities. A warm welcome will be given to all faiths and those with none.

The service will also mark the final move of the old city centre Infirmary to the Odstock site as Salisbury District Hospital 30 years ago, and the 70th anniversary of Radio Odstock, the hospital’s radio station, which is run by volunteers.

Elements of the service will include Salisbury District Hospital staff and volunteers reading prayers and new prose by playwright Paula B. Stanic. One of the readers, staff member Sandra Grihault, said: “I’m honoured to support this celebration. It’s a great reminder of why we do what we do, how far we’ve come, and gives excitement around what we can achieve in the future.”

Led by the Dean and Cathedral clergy, with members of the Trust’s Chaplaincy, the service will also include choir music and the hospital’s poet-in-residence Martin Figura reading newly-commissioned work.

Written by
Andy Munns
View all articles
Written by Andy Munns