Celebrating 70 years of life and the NHS

On the year that the NHS celebrates its 70th birthday, many other people share this special date to celebrate their 70th birthday and just one of those people is Liz Lamb from Barry.

Liz Eileen Lamb was born on 27 May 1948.

Liz’s brother, Peter O’Sullivan, kindly got in touch with the Health Board and asked us to share her story.

Peter said: “Our mother had a fall when she was carrying Liz, and Liz was born prematurely on 27 May 1948. Liz was born with Cerebral Palsy weighing in at a tiny two pounds in weight. She wasn’t expected to live and remarkably, this year Liz is celebrating her 70th birthday.

“After Liz was born, she spent a long time in special care at St David’s hospital; our mother expressed and took milk in every day from Barry to Cardiff, by bus, to ensure that Liz was given the best start in life.

“Liz has never been able to walk properly and is now very disabled, and very independent too, thanks to the support of the NHS Wales and of Social Services, Education, the Welsh & UK Government, the Vale of Glamorgan Council and partner organisations supporting less able people.

“She was the first person to have experimental surgery on her legs, which involved fusing her knees at Rhydlafar Hospital under the care of Mr Dilwyn Evans.

“She was also, after being taught at home, in the first in-take of pupils at Ysgol Erw’r Delyn in Penarth.

“Liz, along with her late husband, Terry, underwent training and worked for many years in a sheltered workshop in Birmingham (which became owned by SCOPE) and where they owned their own home.

“After taking early retirement, Liz and Terry moved back to Wales living in Gwaelod Y Garth, Talbot Green and then, after Terry died in 2015, Liz returned home to Barry; where she now lives in the wonderful Golau Caredig extra care accommodation run by Hafod Care with personal care, funded by the Vale’s adult social services, provided by Reach.

“Liz has also maintained her mobility by using a high-function electric wheelchair; another fantastic contribution from the NHS at Rookwood Hospital.

“Liz’s independence, which includes her love of Welsh rugby, musicals, theatre, socialising and visiting family and friends, is sustained by a Welsh government’s Independent Living

Grant which fund personal assistants who drive Liz’s Motability-wheelchair-adapted car.

Liz was recently a patient at the University Hospital of Wales, where she was interviewed and said: “The NHS has been my life. When I was born I was only two pounds and I lost lots of weight as a tiny baby. I was in an incubator for three months in St. David’s Hospital.

It wasn’t until I was three months old they knew that there was something wrong with me.

“When I was 12 I was the first person in Britain to have my legs straightened in Rhydlafar Hospital; after the operation I spent eight months there. The surgeon straightened my legs which was a success. They had to do one leg at time and I was in plaster for months.

“The Doctors and Nurses got me up and walking, where they then found out I was knock kneed which meant they had to operate again. They got me up walking with crutches at the age of 13 until I was about 60. I’ve always been wheelchair bound but the surgery on my legs has helped to get me up on my legs to move around.

“My experience of the NHS has always been wonderful, they have always been absolutely brilliant. I’m extremely thankful to my surgeon Dillwyn Evans who did the first operation on my legs, which enabled me to be mobile, I will always feel grateful for that.

“The independence I was given, enabling me to get around meant that I was able to leave home when I was 18 to go to a training centre in London for nine months where I learnt to do light engineering.

“I was able to have a job and a career, I went to work in Birmingham for 28 years in a factory called Newton Products working with other disabled people from all over the country.

“I will always be grateful to the NHS for the care they gave me and enabled me to live my life to its fullest.”