People are being asked to come out and clap at 5pm on Sunday 5 July to say thank you to all the NHS staff who have worked during the coronavirus crisis. It comes after 10 weeks of Britons taking to their doorsteps, balconies and front gardens every Thursday evening to clap for carers.
This nationwide clap to thank the NHS is intended to become an annual tradition. People will be encouraged to applaud the heroes of the pandemic with family and friends at 5pm that Sunday, which is the 72nd anniversary of the NHS. Many broadcasters will break away from normal programming to mark the moment.
On 4 July, the evening before, people will be asked to put a light in their windows in remembrance of all those lost to the coronavirus pandemic. Major public buildings, including the Royal Albert Hall, Blackpool Tower, the Shard and the Wembley Arch, will be lit up in blue.
At the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, households across the country regularly applauded healthcare workers from their doorsteps every Thursday evening. The Clap for Carers initiative started on 25 March and was the brainchild of Dutch-born Londoner Annemarie Plas. The weekly tradition was often accompanied by the banging of pots and pans. It was Ms Plas herself who called for the tradition to end after its 10th week and she expressed her hope that it could instead become an annual event.
NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said he hoped the public would use the new anniversary as an opportunity to "say a heartfelt thank you" to hospital staff. Sir Simon said: "This year has been the most challenging in NHS history, with staff displaying extraordinary dedication, skill and compassion to care for the 100,000 patients with Covid-19 who needed specialist hospital treatment and many others besides. "During this testing time our nurses, doctors, physios, pharmacists and countless more colleagues were sustained by the support of the public, not least through the weekly applause for key workers."
Dr Andrew Goodall, chief executive of NHS Wales, said: "I know communities across Wales will want to pay tribute and thank everyone who has played their part in supporting our nation through this pandemic."
The nationwide clap has been organised following a letter from the Together coalition. The letter is signed by influential figures including Ms Plas, Sir Simon and the Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Rev Justin Welby. Rev Justin Welby said: “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.”
Other members of the Together coalition are:
Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England
Dame Katherine Grainger, chair of UK Sport
Baroness Doreen Lawrence, campaigner and mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence and Labour's new race relations adviser
Kwame Kwei-Armah, artistic director of Young Vic Theatre
Tim Peake, British astronaut