Iconic sites across the South West are set to light up blue tonight to mark the anniversary of the founding of the NHS and the huge contribution of health service staff during the coronavirus pandemic.
The lights will be on at Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol, Taunton Racecourse, Damien’s Hirst sculpture at Ilfracombe, Salisbury Cathedral, Exeter Castle and the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol where the lights will be white.
In addition, the historic site at Stonehenge will be flying NHS flags and the Great Western Railway ‘Thank You NHS’ train is on the tracks again across the region.
Vaccination sites are a special feature of this year’s light up, acknowledging the vital role they have played for the NHS and the country. Our own Ashton Gate Stadium, Taunton Racecourse and Salisbury Cathedral have been part of the world-leading vaccine rollout that has seen more than 7 million life-saving vaccinations given in the South West.
Elizabeth O’Mahony, Regional Director of NHS England and NHS Improvement South West, said:
“Birthdays are a time for celebration as we mark the passing of another year and what a year this has been for the NHS.
“The dedication and commitment our people in the South West have shown over the last twelve months has been remarkable and I would like to thank each and every staff member, returner, and volunteer for their unwavering support for the NHS.”
More than 70 landmarks around the country will light up blue, including Wembley Arch, Liverpool’s Liver building, Blackpool Illuminations Arches, Waterloo Station Clock, Nottingham Castle, the London Eye along with a host of civic centres, hospitals and sports stadiums.
Events are also being held across the country today to remember NHS workers who have lost their lives to the virus, ahead the NHS’s 73rd anniversary on Monday.
NHS Chief People Officer Prerana Issar will attend a service at the Blossom Memorial Garden in Stratford, London, this afternoon [Saturday 3rd July], in memory of the NHS workers who died while caring for patients during the pandemic, and in dedication to the way the health service – backed by key workers and the public throughout – has worked together to care for 400,000 Covid patients in England’s hospitals.
The garden, at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, was planted as a living memorial and is a place to reflect, remember those who lost their lives, and pay tribute to key workers.
NHS chief people officer Prerana Issar said:
“Each of the colleagues who sadly died while caring for and protecting patients represents an irreplaceable gap in a family and a workplace. While this is a private event for families and some NHS colleagues, I encourage everyone to take a moment on Saturday to reflect and remember.
“It is no exaggeration to say that health service staff have helped to keep the country going during the pandemic, and while NHS staff have rightly been celebrated for their contribution, we know that the role played by other key workers – people keeping supermarkets open, refuse collectors, child carers and other public services – as well as the resilience of the general public, has helped ensure we can start to move forward.
“The best way for everyone to say thank you to NHS staff and other key workers is to join the tens of millions of others who have so far had their first and second dose of the Covid-19 vaccination, and book your jabs today.”
NHS England chief nursing officer Ruth May said:
“It has been an extremely challenging year for the country and for NHS staff in particular and it is important we reflect on our achievements with pride, and recognise the dedication and commitment of our amazing people who have made huge sacrifices, especially those who sadly lost their lives.
“It has also been a year of hope with the success of our world-leading vaccination programme now in its final push, and our 73rd birthday is a chance to celebrate that and say a huge thank you to our staff, our army of volunteers, and our local communities for working so hard to deliver the extraordinary rollout.
“This is a moment not only for the country to record gratitude for the NHS, but I think for all of us in the NHS to say thank you to everybody who has helped us, help you.”