In 70 days time the NHS will be celebrating its 70th birthday.

To mark this major milestone, on July 5, 2018, we are today launching our own NHS 70 campaign.

Our aim is to celebrate the NHS in Cumbria, past, present and future, working alongside our local health trusts to mark this special anniversary.

In the coming 70 days we will be sharing stories of the staff behind our services and the patients whose lives they have saved.

We will also look back at the early years of the NHS in Cumbria, revisiting cherished memories of the past and seeing how it has evolved.

Today some of Cumbria's current crop of health heroes share their thoughts on why the NHS is so special to them, and what drives them on each day as they care for local patients.

We also want to hear from our readers. We want to know why the NHS is so special to you and what you want for its future.

If you have special memories or nostalgic photographs of local health services, we'd also love to share them.

Contact health reporter Pam McGowan on 01228 612661, email or tweet @pammymcgCN.

What the NHS means to me

Staff from the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT), University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) and North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (NCUH) tell us what is so special about the National Health Service.

Heathe r Bruce, freedom to speak up guardian at UHMBT

“The NHS is recognised as one of the greatest achievements of the UK, and it is a sign of a compassionate and caring society that looks after the vulnerable. I hope that the investment in quality and safe care continues for another 70 years through supporting our staff to speak up for their patients.”

Lesley Paterson, associate director of quality and nursing for specialist services, CPFT

“Working for the NHS to me means I am proud to wear the NHS lanyard, I am proud of its constitution and its values. I am in my 27th year for the NHS and have had a fabulous career to date, including 16 years directly caring for patients. This was an absolute privilege and taught me so much. It’s the blue logo that holds us all together and makes me want to go into work each and every day.”

Debbie Anderson, secretary in diabetes and endocrinology, West Cumberland Hospital

“The NHS means giving patients the best care possible to the best of my ability.”

Nicola Bruff, children’s learning disability nurse, Barrow

“The NHS has changed dramatically over the last 70 years, but what remains the same is the dedication from staff in ensuring the needs of the patient is absolutely paramount. We all have personal experiences of the National Health Service; for my family and I it has provided life-saving care. The NHS was founded on supporting all people from all backgrounds and economic status - it does not discriminate.”

Kate Gilsenan, staff nurse, Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle

“Being able to give love and care to our patients and families when they need it the most. Seeing patients who come to us when they are poorly and being able to watch them recover.”

Nikki Bridson-Nelson, business manager for quality and nursing, Whitehaven, CPFT

“This will be my 23rd year of working for the NHS, which has played a pivotal role in mine and my family’s lives. My son was born 10 weeks early weighing less than a bag of flour and without the dedication, expertise and infinite care would not be the fine young man he is today. My husband is an advanced clinical practitioner and I remain proud of all that our amazing health care system stands for in its 70th year. I continue to have total admiration for my NHS brethren who work tirelessly and professionally.”

Gwyn Lishman, clinical lead for occupational therapy, West Cumberland Hospital

“The NHS has given me some amazing life experiences over almost 20 years, such as working in our community hospitals, in our communities, in the hospital I was born in as well as working in a prison – all to help those who need our support to rebuild their lives, add quality or to become more independent. The NHS is everywhere, it is loved and I hope it will always be there. My job within the NHS has shaped me in many ways and I’m very grateful.”

Fiona Sim, infant feeding coordinator, Carlisle and Eden, CPFT

“In my role as infant feeding coordinator I am able to deliver expert assessment and guidance to individual breastfeeding mothers. I am also able to share this knowledge with Health Visitor teams.”

Kevin McVeigh, data quality and performance officer/staff governor, Kendal

“As a child the NHS saved my life, as with so many millions of others. Now as an adult, I’m passionate and proud to be part of the UK’s finest achievement - one of three in my family combining for around 50 years’ experience working to help others."

Linda Turner, senior learning disability nurse, CPFT

“I am so proud to be a part of this wonderful organisation and to be contributing to its glorious future.”

Lynne Dickson, physiotherapist, Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle

“The NHS to me is allowing us to continue to support our ageing population by providing safe and caring services that promote their independence.”

Lindsay Wright, quality and safety lead, children’s and families' services at CPFT, Ulverston

“To me the NHS means a lot as it provides healthcare at the point of need, no matter what colour, age or creed, and is the flagship that many other countries would like to achieve. The NHS is also a service that always seeks to improve quality care for all ages despite limited resources.”

Yvonne Blackley, cardiac rehabilitation nurse, Furness General Hospital, Barrow

“To me, the NHS means equal healthcare provision for all regardless of ethnicity, culture, age, gender and class.”

Robin Talbot, chairman of CPFT and NCUH

“It means fairness and a world-class health system for all. We have advanced so much in 70 years. We live longer, smoke less, have better hospitals and clinics than we did 70 years ago. We also treat people with a mental health condition or learning disability much more humanely than we did in the days of long-stay Victorian asylums. I am proud of what all those working in/for the NHS have achieved.”

Lauren High, business administration apprentice, West Cumberland Hospital, CPFT

“This is my fifth year working within the NHS and during that time I have worked with so many admirable and amazing people. Every day I see first-hand what NHS staff give to their patients and how it affects them, and I can’t help but totally admire them for all that they do. I’m proud to be part of such an amazing workforce and I hope to be part of it for a long time to come.”

Hannah French, occupational therapist, Acorn mental health inpatient centre, Carlisle, CPFT

“The NHS is all encompassing to me, both as an employee and a patient. It keeps me well enough to work and provides a fulfilling and enjoyable occupation. I have received excellent care through the birth of my children and the monitoring and treatment of my MS. The NHS is an absolute privilege which we need to be forever thankful for.”

Tracey Mifflin, physiotherapy lead, West Cumberland Hospital

“Our NHS is an organisation and health care system to be proud of, and a great organisation to work for. It is a service to be valued and protected as a provider of quality healthcare. I am particularly proud of the developments within physiotherapy in recent years.”

Liz Harkness, specialist physiotherapist, Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle

“The NHS is inclusive, caring and something we should be proud to be part of.”

Nicola Little, anaesthetics administrator, Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle

“To me, it is all about working together to ensure patients and visitors receive the best possible care to enable us to be proud of being part of the NHS.”

Sue Pitt, podiatry team, Barrow

“Being part of the NHS means I can work with people and help make a difference. It can be a very satisfying job.”

Helen Ray, executive managing director of operations, NCUH

“We have the privilege of caring for people and their families when they are at their most vulnerable, and every day they are with us makes a massive difference.”

Ali Atkinson-Budd, associate director of midwifery, NCUH

“The NHS is about health care that wraps around the person and their family.”