Duo complete trek across Wales to celebrate NHS’ 70 birthday

Phil and Bethan and crowd news bannerIt’s been nearly three weeks since the Revd Phil Wall, Minister of St David’s Uniting Church, in Pontypridd, and Bethan Walkling, daughter of the Revd Simon Walkling, Moderator of the National Synod of Wales, trekked across Wales to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the NHS.

Having walked 180-miles between 7-17 July and with worn feet now rested, Mr Wall reflects on their achievement with a specially written poem. Here is an excerpt:

God Bless the NHS

Back in May last year, after Michael Sheen’s* speech;
NHS Celebrations seemed just within reach.
And now, a year on, having crossed this great land;
What has become clear; what we can all understand,
Is that events like these require effort and skill;
A pinch of inspiration; a big dash of good will.
So, to all those who participated in ways great or small,
We must say ‘diolch yn fawr’ – huge thanks go to you all.

On Saturday we drove up from Ponty to Rhyl;
At Saint Asaph Cathedral, we prayed for the ill.
We visited Glan Clwyd, ate chips near the bay
And then met our kind hosts, the first on the Way.

The next day at Horeb, we gathered together.
We ate, sang and prayed; we frowned at the weather.
Then David, a doctor, who’s known Bethan a while;
Led us on our way; walked more than one extra mile.

Bethan and Phil at a hospital news story

The sun, it was fierce; the path, it was long.
So, approaching day’s end, we burst into song.
Then the righteous of Ruthin, they spoilt us walkers,
As we bathed in their welcome; soon learnt they’re good talkers!
Breakfast with other churches followed a restful night.
And as all good disciples, they passed on the light.


Over aqueducts, through tunnels, we trundled that day.
And passed into England with a ‘boo’ and ‘hooray’!
So, to Oswestry, where Alan welcomed us in,
And his home brewed beer gave Bethan reason to grin.
We were treated, by Churches Together, to dinner.
And the curry we went for … boy, that was a winner!

Visit the God Bless the NHS blog page to read the poem in full.

Celebratory events are still ongoing. To find out how you can take part visit God Bless the NHS.

Pictures: 1) Mick Antinow (Welsh Assembly Member for Pontypridd); Vaughan Gething (Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-Being and Sport, Welsh Assembly); Beverley Humphreys (BBC presenter and URC Synod of Wales' RJIM); Bethan Walkling (elder at St David's Uniting Church, Pontypridd); Iori Haugen (Tenovus Choirmaster, Pontypridd); me and Revd SPI Lewis presenting our gifts and postcards of thanks to the Welsh Assembly, outside the Senedd.
2) Bethan Walkling and the Revd Phil Wall giving thanks and presents to staff at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, Oswestry. 

*Hollywood actor Michael Sheen spoke about the NHS and Aneurin Bevan at the Hay Festival – an annual literature festival – in Wales, on Saturday 3 June 2017. Watch the speech here.