Joe was thrilled to be ‘Guest of Honour’ at Blackpool Victoria Hospital on Tuesday 3rd July 2018 as part of their week’s celebrations to mark the 70th birthday of the NHS. His visit began with the unveiling of a ‘book bench’ outside the main entrance of the hospital. The bench is the result of a campaign by the hospital’s Unison branch to encourage adult literacy and is designed by local artist David Healy. Joe was joined by hospital management staff including the Chief Executive Wendy Swift who said a few words before asking Joe to cut the ribbon on the bench, surrounded by staff and their small children who immediately took the opportunity to sit down and try the bench out. Staff are now able to relax on the bench and read something from the library in the Education Centre. Joe’s own autobiography is now on the library’s shelves, a copy being presented to Unison Learning Representative Jane Eyre. Joe sat and chatted for a few minutes with Jane before heading off for the second event, over in the main hospital building. The home Joe shares with his partner Jamie was designed and built by Joseph Fielding in the 1930’s. Mr Fielding a local builder and architect designed many buildings around the area including Blackpool’s hospital. Inspecting the attic when they moved in some years ago Mr Fielding’s very dusty desk and working papers were discovered , literally ‘untouched’ for years. Plans for the original hospital buildings were discovered amongst the items and these facts were mentioned to A & E consultant and good friend Dr Tony Kearns recently. Dr Kearns suggested that they could be donated to the hospital’s archive and museum to be retained for posterity and historical value. However, this is not quite the end of the story as now can be revealed. The plans have been copied on acrylic and added as a centre feature on the brand new ‘History Wall’ in the main corridor of the hospital. The wall , celebrating the NHS 70 celebrations, is a innovative feature which honours the history and development of Blackpool Victoria Hospital linking the past with the present. Saying a few words to everyone, and with Chief Executive Wendy Swift again thanking him for doing the honours, Joe proudly unveiled the plans, officially opening the wall before taking a few minutes with partner Jamie to browse the wall. With press and TV in attendance Joe was delighted to chat with everyone and have ‘selfies’ and sign autographs before heading off home. A great day was had by all, Joe would like to express his thanks to Wendy Swift and all the team at Blackpool Victoria Hospital who made him and Jamie so welcome. They know the significance of the NHS more than most and so sincerely wish ‘Happy 70th Birthday’ to the NHS. #NHS70 #NHS70BlackpoolTH #JoeLongthorne