Gavin & Stacey’s Ruth Jones says she was “very proud” to discover her grandfather was involved in a medical society which served as the model for the NHS on Who Do You Think You Are?


In her episode of the popular family history TV series, which will be shown on BBC One at 9pm on Monday 26 November, the actor and comedian discovered the life of her grandfather Henry Richard Jones, who she never knew.

Ruth Jones, who played the outspoken Nessa on the BAFTA-winning sitcom Gavin & Stacey, found out that Henry Richard was the secretary of the Neath Medical Aid Association.

Discover more about healthcare before the NHS and Henry Richard Jones' role in it in our November 2020 issue, on sale now

Before the National Health Service was founded in 1948, the Medical Aid Associations served to provide free at the point of use healthcare to ordinary working people, who could join for payment of a small fee.

“I was very proud of him – he seemed to be a real defender of the underdog and was very committed to his cause,” Ruth Jones said.

“He was passionate about the Medical Aid Associations and I hadn’t realised how important they were as a forerunner to the NHS.”

She said she was also surprised to read Henry Richard’s “tender and romantic” love letters to her grandmother Anita, written while he was serving in the Navy during World War One.

“I did wonder if he was looking down, how he’d feel about my reading out his love letters on national television!” she said.

“It was heartwarming to discover how in love my grandparents were though.”

Ruth Jones’ episode of Who Do You Think You Are? reveals how deep her Welsh family history is.

“When we started filming I did ask whether I’d need my passport but was told no!” she said.

“My journey was very much a Welsh one, though I did see parts of Wales I didn’t know I was connected to and I loved New Quay.”

The previous episodes of Who Do You Think You Are? series 17, starring Jodie Whittaker and David Walliams, are available to watch on BBC iPlayer.


The last episode currently airing, featuring Silent Witness’ Liz Carr, will be broadcast on Monday 2 November.