NHS thanks British public after incredible mass applause for coronavirus heroes: that was emotional

Sean Morrison
Evening Standard

The NHS has thanked the British public for an “emotional” display as the nation took part in a mass round of applause for health workers on the frontline of the coronavirus crisis.

The health service’s official Twitter page carried the message “that was emotional” along with a blue heart following the incredible scenes all across the UK on Thursday night.

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Up and down the country, members of the public put their hands together for the salute to NHS staff and others who have been battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

The country was led by the children of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who were filmed smiling and clapping along as they took part in the initiative.

A video posted on the Kensingtonroyal Instagram account showed Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis clapping to thank all those healthcare staff “working tirelessly” to help those affected by Covid-19.

Political figures such as Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn also joined in the applause, which was carried out at 8pm.

Tom, 42, a consultant anaesthetist, heard the applause on his way home from work at a London hospital.

"It was really touching to hear the applause," he said.

"We're all so worried about whether we're going to be able to be there for all the patients who are going to need us over the coming weeks and months, and knowing that the public have got our backs was much needed.

"Hearing the clapping told us that people out there know how hard everyone has been working to get ahead of the coming surge as much as we can, and that has given us a boost - a reminder that there's a world outside the frantic bubble of Covid-related work we've all been living in for weeks now."

At the same time as the mass applause, landmarks including the London Eye, Belfast City Hall and Principality Stadium in Cardiff were lit up blue as part of the #lightitblue salute.

It comes after more than 670,000 people have signed up for the NHS volunteer programme in 48 hours, prompting the Government to increase the target to 750,000.

People are being sought to help deliver shopping and medication to those in need, transport patients and NHS equipment, or check in and chat on the phone with individuals at risk of loneliness as a result of self-isolation.

And Tom said that the effort made within the NHS to prepare for the task ahead has been "heartening to see."

He said: "We've all been daunted by what we've seen happening in Italy, and in China before that, and knowing that it is heading this way.

"In a few weeks, we've completely changed some things in the NHS which previously would have taken months or years to get sorted out, and the sense of can-do and expediency from all the staff has been heartening to see.

"It's really felt like a huge collective endeavour - all hands on deck as we head into the storm.”

The Prince of Wales, who has been diagnosed with coronavirus, was also seen joining the applause.

Clarence House posted a video in its Instagram Story of heir to throne Charles clapping for health workers from Birkhall, his private home on the Balmoral estate in Scotland.

Camilla, who is isolating from Charles because she does not have the Covid-19 illness, was also seen in separate footage clapping on her own as she looked out of an open window.

The Clap For Carers campaign, which started online, was staged because “during these unprecedented times they need to know we are grateful”, according to the organisers.

The person behind the campaign wrote on its website: "In Spain, France and the Netherlands they already did this. And being a Dutch Londoner, I want to pass this on in the country I feel so at home, and the NHS had been nothing but amazing to my family and myself!"

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