Britain to come Together for big THANK YOU! Huge commemoration on birthday of NHS

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Plans are being made to say the “biggest ever thank you” on the anniversary of the cherished institution on July 5. NHS staff perform miracles all-year round but their contribution during pandemic has been extraordinary. Now a grateful nation is being urged to express its gratitude to each and every one who has contributed during the greatest crisis in its history.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “Over recent months our nurses, doctors, therapists, support staff, paramedics and countless other NHS colleagues have had to contend with the greatest challenge in the health service’s history. But we could never have done it alone and we’ve been helped and sustained by fellow key workers, carers and volunteers who together have looked out for others and kept the country running.”

He added: “As we mark the NHS’s birthday we want to say a huge thank you on behalf of the whole NHS to all those who have played their part in tackling this horrible coronavirus pandemic.”

The centrepiece of a weekend of commemorations will be a minute’s silence on July 4 with the country asked to light a candle and display it in windows in remembrance of all who have died during the coronavirus crisis.

The following day – the anniversary of the founding of the NHS – Britain will participate in one final doorstep clap of thanks, before raising a glass or sharing a cup of tea with neighbours. Details of more events will follow.

Britain to come Together for big THANK YOU! Huge commemoration on birthday of NHS

/Together campaign will see Britain unite on July 4 and 5 (Image: GETTY)

The NHS has been working with the newly-founded /Together coalition to mark the occasion with dozens of individuals and groups voicing their support, including record-breaking fundraiser and national treasure Captain Sir Tom Moore, grassroots community leaders, carers, emergency workers, sportsmen and women, religious leaders, celebrities and the Scouts and Guides associations.

Among those backing the initiative are Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Rev. Justin Welby, chairman of Together Steering Group, former England footballer Gary Lineker, astronaut Tim Peake and Annemarie Plas, who was behind the phenomenally successful Clap for Carers movement.

The special weekend will be an opportunity to celebrate the NHS, which was founded in 1948 to provide healthcare from cradle to grave, free at the point of use for everyone.

It will be used to honour unsung heroes like teachers, care staff, transport and shop workers, the armed forces and volunteers.

Britain to come Together for big THANK YOU! Huge commemoration on birthday of NHS

Clap for carers: People across Britain applauded for the heroes (Image: GETTY)

And it will be a way to recognise the nationwide support shown to those toiling on the frontline – from children who have placed rainbows and NHS signs in their windows, to those who have undoubtedly saved lives by staying at home.

Most Rev. Welby said: “This crisis has in many ways made us more grateful for each other and more indebted to the workers who put themselves at risk to keep our country running and protect the vulnerable.

It has shown people at their best – volunteering, helping neighbours, protecting those at greatest risk, pulling together as communities to support one another. My sincere hope is that this weekend will serve as a powerful moment of remembrance, thanks and connection, as we come together and commit to helping to create kinder, closer, more connected communities.”

Ms Plas said: “Over the last ten weeks millions of people came out to clap those who went to work so we could safely stay indoors. Now is the time to expand this gratitude and acknowledge everyone who has and is still helping us through this crisis.

Britain to come Together for big THANK YOU! Huge commemoration on birthday of NHS

Boris and Carrie clapping outside Number 10 (Image: GETTY)

I’d hope to see a wave of ‘thank you’ going through this country on the weekend of the NHS’s anniversary.

Annemarie Plas

“Thursday nights were a moment to show our appreciation but also became a moment to check-in with our neighbours and have some human contact.

“I hope we can make July 5 a day which unites us in a countrywide thank you.”

As the Daily Express has reported throughout the crisis Covid-19 has caused immeasurable hardship and suffering with tens of thousands of families losing loved ones, an upsurge in those struggling with physical and mental health and enormous financial hardship.

But it has also shown the best of British with millions stepping forward to volunteer, help neighbours, protect those at greatest risk and pulling together to support one another.

New polling for the /Together campaign revealed the country feels more connected than it did before the crisis. Some six in 10 people said that overall, the public’s response to the crisis has shown the unity of our society more than its divides. Just 15 per cent disagreed.

Ruth May, England’s chief nurse, said: “The NHS’s birthday is an important moment when we say thank you – to staff across the health service, but also to all those who have supported us as we’ve been tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

“Everyone’s had a part to play, and community spirit has been one of the few positives of this time. Throughout its history the NHS has brought the whole country together, treating everyone based on need not ability to pay. So we’re honoured the /Together coalition has chosen the NHS birthday to pull the country together.”

Britain to come Together for big THANK YOU! Huge commemoration on birthday of NHS

Clap for carers: NHS staff were applauded for their bravery every Thursday (Image: GETTY)

Annemarie Plas, Clap For Our Carers founder

The nation is in the grip of both Covid-19 and systematic racism. Neither is the cause for any celebration.

Clap For Our Carers was our opportunity to show respect and say thanks. It may have cheered us all up a little but that was never the primary aim.

We came together to show our admiration for all those in hospitals, care homes and elsewhere who continue to work so hard and sacrifice so much for all of us. And, yes, we salute those black and other minority ethnic people who once again have been hit hardest and suffered most.

Britain to come Together for big THANK YOU! Huge commemoration on birthday of NHS

Annemarie Plas, Clap For Our Carers founder (Image: PA)

On July 5th the NHS will mark the anniversary of its foundation back in 1948. Again, not a cause for celebration – now is not the time for that – but to pause and reflect and say, ‘thank you’.

It was beautiful to see our collective Thursday evening applause bring people together for ten weeks. And it was right to end it when we did. But the energy and compassion that brought us all out on our doorsteps is still there and this milestone for the NHS is the right moment to pay tribute one more time.

I’d hope to see a wave of ‘thank you’ going through this country on the weekend of the NHS’s anniversary. With two moments to unite hopefully.

With two moments to unite hopefully.

On Saturday night a pause to remember all those we have lost with a candle in the window of homes all across the UK. And on Sunday, to say “Thank You” from your doorstep. A thank you to all in our communities who’ve helped us, to the children for being so good, and (at a safe distance of course) to raise a glass or share a cuppa with the neighbours.  To check-in with them, like we did on Thursday evenings.

We are not out of the crisis yet, and we don’t know what the near future holds either, but we do know that we only got here because of us – normal people – being there, reaching out, donating, volunteering and much more,  to all the charities, loved ones and communities.

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