OKEHAMPTON celebrated the 70th birthday of the NHS on Saturday with a party for the community in the Ockment Centre.

A very appropriate 70 tickets were sold for the event, with local bands donating their services for free for the fundraiser in aid of FORCE.

Among those performing were a cappella quartet the Hummingbirds in 1940s glamour garb.

The evening raised more than £500 for the Exeter-based charity, which has stepped into provide chemotherapy at Okehampton Hospital.

It followed an afternoon tea party in the garden at the Ockment Centre, open to everyone.

Town councillor Jan Goffey, who is leading the North Dartmoor Health Initiative campaigning for the future of the hospital, said: ‘The afternoon was quiet, because of the football and Wimbledon, but the evening do was lovely, there was live music and food and it was really well attended.

‘All the proceeds were going to FORCE to provide the chemotherapy at the hospital. Anything I can do to support them is important and there was a nice atmosphere, with lots of people there and local bands. It was nice to have the opportunity to support the NHS.’

Everyone at the party was invited to sign a card giving wishing the NHS a happy birthday, which will be presented to staff at the hospital in Okehampton at a later date.

Party organiser Ray Aplin, the chairman of Okehampton Labour Party branch, said: ‘It went very well. We sold 70 tickets and I would say that including the organisers and band members there were close to 100 people.’

He added: ‘We wanted to celebrate 70 years of the NHS. It is a much-valued institution and was set up by Nye Bevan, who was Minister for Health in 1948, so we felt it was appropriate to celebrate.

‘We didn’t want it to be a political thing, though. We want to celebrate the NHS and particularly we wanted to raise money for FORCE because they are keeping Okehampton Hospital going, running the chemotherapy so people don’t have to travel to Exeter, and supporting the NHS in that way. We raised more than £500 for them.

‘We also got people to sign this 70th birthday card,’ he added. ‘We are going to give it to the NHS staff at the hospital, to say thank you for everything they do.’