St David’s Day, the annual celebration of the patron saint of Wales which took place last Friday, presented the perfect opportunity for us to celebrate the health heritage of and the unique identity of Cardiff and Vale UHB and the NHS in Wales.

When people think about the NHS’ ties to Wales, most will think of Aneurin Bevan, the visionary Labour Minister for Health from Tredegar who founded the institution in 1948, radically changing the way people accessed healthcare in the UK forever.

However, there are some people from Wales before and after Bevan who have had influence over the way we provide care for our population. This St David’s Day, Arts for Health and Wellbeing looked to celebrate some of these people at Cardiff and Vale UHB through art.

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On St David’s Day, local artist Nathan Wyburn was in the concourse at UHW painting coffee portraits of people who have been influential to healthcare in Wales. He has previously painted Aneurin Bevan in this style as part of the NHS at 70 celebrations. That picture now hangs proudly in Barry Hospital and these three new pieces will join and complement Nye as we celebrate our health heritage through art. The three portraits are of Professor Sir Mansel Aylward, Julian Tudor Hart, and Betsi Cadwaladr.

Betsi Cadwaladr was a nurse in the Crimean War who worked alongside Florence Nightingale. Although the two nurses rarely saw eye-to-eye and Nightingale had reservations about Cadwaladr’s background, she subsequently acknowledged Cadwaladr’s work to react intuitively to the needs of the injured soldiers and the progress she made improving the unhygienic conditions of the field hospital.

Julian Tudor Hart was a general practitioner for over 30 years in the Afan Valley in south Wales. His practice in Glyncorrwg, Wales, was the first in the UK to be recognised as a research practice, piloting many Medical Research Council studies. He was also the first doctor to routinely measure every patient’s blood pressure and as a result was able to reduce premature mortality in high risk patients at his practice by 30%.

Professor Sir Mansel Aylward is a leading voice in Wales’ public health. During his distinguished career, Professor Sir Mansel was Chief Medical Officer, Medical Director and Chief Scientist at the Department for Work and Pensions in London, and was the first ever 2 Chair of Public Health Wales NHS Trust, responsible for the delivery of public health services at national, local and community levels in Wales. Professor Sir Mansel is now the Chair of the Bevan Commission, which he founded in 2008, and is the Chair of the Life Science Hub. We work very closely with him through both of these forums, so his portrait will certainly be at home hanging in one of our hospitals.

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Len Richards, CEO of Cardiff and Vale UHB, said, “As an international organisation we are fortunate to have a very rich and culturally diverse workforce, which is representative of the communities that we provide services to. Enjoying our culture, arts and environment, whether through national days or as part of your everyday life, is good for all of our mental health and wellbeing and I’m delighted to help celebrate St David’s Day with my Welsh and international friends and colleagues.

Professor Sir Mansel Aylward said: “I was delighted to be chosen by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board for this special honour, alongside the highly distinguished and celebrated Betsi Cadwaladr and Dr Julian Tudor Hart, most prominent figures in Welsh health history whom I greatly admire. Wales has so much to offer the world in health and care expertise and innovation. I am proud of NHS Wales and it is fitting that our NHS legacy is celebrated on this St David’s Day. Nathan did a fantastic job of capturing my likeness and it was a pleasure to watch him produce these works of art.”

Nathan Wyburn, Artist, said: “It’s always an absolute pleasure to work alongside the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board. Creating these portraits of such well-known people was great fun. Professor Sir Mansel Aylward absolutely loved his when he came to see it as I created it live – it’s always added pressure but I’m thrilled with his response. The coffee dries perfectly and I can’t wait to see them on display alongside my previously created Aneurin Bevan.”

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