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Woman from Dover had tonsils removed at Buckland Hospital on day the NHS was launched

Ann Sheehan will never forget the day the NHS was created. It was her 10th birthday and she was in Buckland Hospital in Dover having her tonsils removed.

The grandmother and mum-of-five will be dedicating a few minutes of her 82nd birthday today by joining in with the planned clap at 5pm to mark the health service's 72nd birthday.

For Mrs Sheehan, who now lives in Folkestone, it is her chance to thank the institution – not only for the care she has received, but to join in with the nation's appreciation as its doctors, nurses, paramedics and health professionals continue the Covid-19 fight.

Mrs Sheehan, who grew up in Dover, said: “I didn’t realise at the time the significance of the date, and nothing really changed in my treatment or experience in hospital.

“I do remember the surgeon was Dr Toland, who was our family GP.

"I came to at some point in the operating theatre and Dr Toland asked if I knew who he was and I did!

“I must have been one of the very first NHS patients, certainly locally.”

Buckland Hospital circa 1950. Courtesy of Dover Library
Buckland Hospital circa 1950. Courtesy of Dover Library

Mrs Sheehan, nee Sherred, met her husband when he was stationed at barracks at Dover Castle, and they married – with her parents’ permission – when she was 17, in 1956.

They lived in Ealing, and then in Ruislip in Middlesex, before moving back to Kent.

She said: “As a family we have a lot to thank the NHS for. I had an operation for lung cancer in November, and my older daughter has also had cancer treatment, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

“Mine was only a tiny amount and I was clear two weeks later, but I found out my daughter was poorly immediately after I had my operation, and I was terribly affected by that.

“She had to have five or six weeks of quite gruelling treatment but thankfully she is almost completely clear of cancer now.

Ann Sheehan with husband John
Ann Sheehan with husband John

“We joined in the Thursday claps when they were happening and we’ll definitely be out today to say thank you to the NHS for all they have done.”

Apart from the clapping, Mrs Sheehan is planning a quiet celebration with her husband.

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