Joan Hewitt, award-winning Tynemouth Poet and NHS Campaigner, spends a bracing February Saturday afternoon on Longsands
In the end, the heart for the NHS on Longsands had 102 people. Here it is still forming, squishily.
Thanks to two briliant musicians Pete A Shaw and James Ince, we drew and held a crowd, despite a rising cold wind. Jimmy was on at the end but retained most of the nithered crowd- dancing and singing, yes!
Every fifth person walking on the beach seemed to be working for the NHS, or had a family member who did! Only one refused a leaflet – he preferred private medicine, he said…
Passionate pro-NHS speeches from the hardworking KONPNE; from Julia Charlton on the crisis in nursing and where our NI contributions end up; from Joe Kirwin as Chair of the Health Scrutiny Committee; from the People’s Assembly; and many more.
Humour and sadness from Cullercoats poet-of-the-North Harry Gallagher, with audience participation – we all happily/ angrily shouted LIAR at the end of every verse of his Johnson poem!
Seeing the crowd shivering near the end, I cut my set in half, leaving out Martin Figura’s poems from his lovely book My Name Is Mercy, which evolved from conversations with and observations of stressed staff in Salisbury Hospital.
I read a poem from Michael Rosen‘s book Many Different Kinds Of Love. He was in a Covid coma for months and is still in the hell of Long Covid. Then a short extract from the Patient Diary kept for him by nurses and helpers.
In the Diary, Beth wrote: You have done really well overnight. You are starting to move little bits which is excellent. Hope you continue this great progress. You’ve got this!! Looking forward to meeting you when you wake up, you wrote my favourite book…’We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’.
and Michael Rosen wrote: “The NHS is at the very heart of who we are and what we are here for. It is a reminder that we are nothing if we do not care for each other, regardless of how much money we might have, or because of where we are from.”