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Northampton mum and baby star alongside famous faces in new Rankin exhibition celebrating 75 years of NHS charities

Thenjiwe Imbayago

Thenjiwe and one-year-old son Gordon (Copyright Rankin)

A former patient of the Barratt Birth Centre is featuring alongside comedian Michael Palin and England footballer Jordan Henderson in a new exhibition from Rankin and NHS Charities Together, celebrating 75 years of NHS charities.

Thenjiwe Imbayago, 32, from Northampton, gave birth to son Gordon at the Barratt Birth Centre in 2022 – a facility that only exists thanks to philanthropic shoemaker William Barratt and wife Alice, who generously funded the building after they learned they couldn’t have children of their own.

Thenjiwe is one of 14 NHS staff, patients and volunteers starring in ‘Love and Charity: A History of Giving in the NHS’ – a new exhibition which celebrates the vital role charities have played throughout the health service’s history, ahead of the NHS’ 75th anniversary on 5th July. The portraits will be displayed at the Saatchi gallery in London from 31st May- 11th June.

Led by NHS Charities Together, the national charity caring for the NHS, and internationally renowned photographer Rankin, the exhibition shows how charitable giving has helped make the NHS what it is today, and features new portraits of NHS staff, patients and volunteers – like Thenjiwe – who all have a powerful personal connection to NHS charities.

Thenjiwe said: “I had an emergency c-section and was in hospital for days, but I received really good care and felt so lucky. You hear a lot of negative stories around people of colour and labour, and I was incredibly frightened about what might happen. But the staff were so reassuring and I couldn’t have felt more looked after.

“The NHS continues to provide amazing care, but times are challenging and they need support. NHS charities help the NHS in all sorts of ways you’d never think of, like the Barratt Maternity Home. It’s bought thousands of babies into the world and without charity it simply wouldn’t be here.”

Self-made shoe manufacturer William Barratt (1877-1939) and his wife Alice turned their devastation of being unable to have children into a lasting legacy for thousands of townsfolk when they funded the new maternity home for Northampton General Hospital in 1936.

At the peak of his business endeavours, there was a Barratts shoe shop in every high street, and Barratt – who was born in Northampton – was determined to improve maternity care for the town. He donated £20,000 towards the cost of The Barratt Maternity Home, which was opened by HRH Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, on July 4, 1936. The hospital has since welcomed thousands of babies into the world, including Thenjiwe’s one-year-old son Gordon, who also stars in the exhibition.

There are over 230 NHS charities in the UK, and together they help our health service go further than would be possible with government funding alone. They fund innovative research and pioneering new technologies, accommodation and support to make hospital feel less like hospital, and extra services so more of us can access better care.

Rankin, who has photographed the likes of the Queen, David Bowie, Madonna and Kate Moss, adds: “The thing I’ve learned from all these people is how much of a massive contribution NHS charities make to the national health service. You don’t realise the scale of support that’s out there – they fund research and new technologies, accommodation and support for patients, and extra services so more of us can access better care. I used to work in the NHS but honestly had no idea, and it really has been eye opening.”

Ellie Orton OBE, Chief Executive at NHS Charities Together, said: “It’s been incredibly inspiring meeting Thenjiwe and everyone involved in this project, and hearing their stories. 75 years after the NHS was founded, charity support has never been more important, and with your help we can continue to help the NHS for generations to come. On 5 July, you can support the charity that means the most to you and celebrate 75 years of the NHS by hosting an NHS Big Tea party. We hope some of these stories show the astonishing impact one person’s generosity can have.”

‘Love and Charity: A History of Giving in the NHS’ will be exhibited at the Saatchi gallery in London from 31st May – 11th June 2023 and is free to the public.

To find out more information about how you can support your local NHS charity visit www.nhsbigtea.co.uk or www.nhcfgreenheart.co.uk

Posted on Friday 2nd June 2023
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