The sound of applause rang around the streets of Britain on Thursday night as millions of people took part in a mass cheer to ‘clap for our carers’.
Live feeds on social media showed people leaning out of windows, standing in gardens and venturing on to balconies to join the nationwide gesture of gratitude.
The #ClapForOurCarers hashtag and poster started circulating on social media a week ago and quickly attracted the support of millions of households across the UK wanting to thank NHS workers during the coronavirus crisis.
The poster read: “Please join us on 26th of March at 8pm for a big applause... to show all nurses, doctors, GPs and carers our appreciation for their ongoing hard work and fight against this virus.”
The official website added that organisers wanted to “show all who are working at the front line our appreciation”.
Landmarks across the country lit up blue during the salute at 8pm, including the Wembley Arch, the Principality Stadium, the Royal Albert Hall and Lincoln Cathedral.
‘Anne Marie’, who came up with the idea and started the campaign, told Yahoo News UK: "During these unprecedented times, [NHS staff] need to know that we are grateful.
“I hope that with this simple gesture we can let everyone on the front line feel how much we appreciate their hard work, fighting this virus on our behalf. With the long days and limited resources.
“And for the people in their homes, when they hear the neighbours, who they haven’t seen for days, know that they are not alone in this. We need each other more than ever!”
We know #OurNHSPeople are always amazing, but at the moment they’re even more amazing than usual. At 8pm, join #ClapForOurCarers to say thank you for the hard work of NHS staff and carers looking after our loved ones and keeping us safe. 👏 💙 #ThankYouNHS pic.twitter.com/ThGUNPERVO
— NHS England and NHS Improvement (@NHSEngland) March 26, 2020
An A&E nurse called Craig posted an emotional video on Twitter after the applause, thanking people for their support. Fighting back tears the charge nurse said: “It’s been a really hard week for everybody. I just took the team outside to listen. That is absolutely...I don’t think there are the words... thank you.”
8pm A&E , what that meant to us
I’ve stood on many ambulance bays and shed sad tears over the years , tonight was different I cannot tell you just how special connected and proud that made us feel .
Thank you so much ❤️
Human kindness , that’s how we win x #ClapForTheNHS pic.twitter.com/lJimZ1rmsL
— # My name is Craig (@Lethalleathard) March 26, 2020
Celebrities including the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Victoria and David Beckham, and DJ Zoe Ball backed the display of gratitude. Even the children of Kensington Palace were seen applauding in a video posted on the offical twitter account.
To all the doctors, nurses, carers, GPs, pharmacists, volunteers and other NHS staff working tirelessly to help those affected by #COVID19: thank you.#ClapForOurCarers #ClapForNHS pic.twitter.com/XnaUPJyDoX
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) March 26, 2020
Victoria Beckham shared the poster for the event with her 28.1 million Instagram followers. She said: "Words can't describe how thankful we are for all the bravery and hard work of the healthcare workers during this uncertain time. Let's all join together to show our gratitude and solidarity with those on the frontline."
— Sian Elvin (@SianElvin) March 26, 2020
— Vafa Ghazavi (@GhazaviVD) March 26, 2020
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex backed the event on their SussexRoyal Instagram account where they shared the ‘Clap for Our Carers’ poster. The couple paid tribute to frontline health workers by spreading the word about the small gesture.
On Wednesday it was revealed that William and Harry’s father, Prince Charles, had tested positive for coronavirus.
Even our otherwise quiet street was filled with applause for @NHSuk tonight 👏👏👏 Thank you for all that you do everyday and especially in the current #covid19UK crisis #clapforourcarers #ThankYouNHS #NHSheroes @NHSMillion @NHSEnglandLDN pic.twitter.com/aR2jwZl3wO
— Josefine Björkqvist (@josefinebjork) March 26, 2020
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I want to say a HUGE thank you to all NHS staff and carers for the incredible job they’re doing in the most difficult of circumstances. Me, Jade and the whole family will #clapforourcarers this evening at 8pm. I hope you can too. 💕 pic.twitter.com/Io4lPmzcZ6
— Emma Bunton (@EmmaBunton) March 26, 2020
The gesture of gratitude mirrors ones that have already taken place in countries such as Spain and Italy where citizens have been under enforced restricted movement for several weeks.
On Thursday, police in North Yorkshire introduced checkpoints for vehicles to ensure drivers stick to the government lockdown guidelines during the coronavirus crisis.