Call for final national clap on NHS’s 72nd birthday


/Together campaign seeks to celebrate key workers and remember coronavirus victims on 4-5 July

A campaign to have one last nationwide clap next month to thank all the UK’s key workers for their work and sacrifice in tackling the first wave of coronavirus, has received the backing of the archbishop of Canterbury and other high-profile figures.

The founder of the Thursday night clap, Annemarie Plas, is also backing the initiative to mark the 72nd birthday of the NHS on Sunday 5 July with the “biggest thank you” in Britain’s history.

For 10 weeks millions of people across the UK have applauded at 8pm every Thursday for frontline doctors, nurses and care home staff.

Plas, a Dutch national living in South London, said 28 May should be the last of the weekly claps for carers, but she said the 5 July clap marked a chance for the public to expand their gratitude to everyone who had helped during the crisis.

She said: “Uniting, coming together and the acknowledgement that we need each other is something we need more than ever.”

A spokesman for the 5 July campaign – dubbed /Together – said: “This will be a moment to come together and thank all of those who are helping us get through this ongoing crisis.”

As part of the campaign, there will also be a minute’s silence on 4 July to remember the tens of thousands of victims of coronavirus. At the same time people will be encouraged to light candles in their windows in remembrance.

The civil society initiative is independent of the government, but endorsed by the head of the NHS, Sir Simon Stevens. It also aims to cement the increasing sense of community spirit that has developed during the crisis.

Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, 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.”

He added: “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.”

Research for the /Together campaign found the public felt more connected to their neighbours than before the crisis. A poll found that 60% agreed that “the public response to coronavirus has shown the unity of our society more than its divides”.

Kwame Kwei-Armah, the director of the Young Vic theatre, is among the high-profile backers, who also include TV football pundit Gary Lineker and the astronaut Tim Peake.

Armah said: “At a time when there is so much emphasis on what divides us, giving thanks and connecting with our communities is one of the things that unites us.”


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