Day after day, night after night this selfless army is going to extraordinary lengths to fight coronavirus. Now we want the country to do the same so we can all say a heartfelt thank you for all they have done – and do. Your crusading Express, which will always back doctors, nurses, midwives, physios, cleaners and porters, wants to lay on free concerts so they can party together in a celebration of all that is wonderful about our health service.
Staged at venues the length and breadth of Britain, they would become the biggest thank-you present ever, as a grateful nation lavishes praise on our NHS heroes. So today we throw down a challenge to some of our biggest stars, concert promoters and world class venues: Let’s make this happen and let’s make them all nights to remember.
Our collective gratitude for the NHS was shown last night when some of the UK’s most iconic buildings including the Canary Wharf offices of the Daily Express, Wembley Stadium and the Royal Albert Hall, lit up blue while Britain broke from isolation to erupt into a spontaneous applause of thanks.
The country faces many more weeks of chaos and uncertainty.
But wouldn’t it be fantastic for us all – and especially those working on the frontline – to have something to look forward to? We are certain the stars who have helped to create the greatest music in the world would bend over backwards to perform and assist us to celebrate the very best of British.
Our plan to honour our NHS Heroes is backed by Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock, who told this newspaper: “Great idea. We’ll definitely get behind it.
“A thank-you of this magnitude with the nation’s support is exactly what our NHS heroes deserve. I hope as many stars as possible will give their time and energy to make it work.”
He added: “Our talented health and care workers across the UK are rising to the immense challenge that we face as a country. I’ve had the incredible honour of meeting many of them and could not be more proud. The courage, dedication and professionalism they show as they carry out their vital work both in hospitals and in our communities should be an inspiration for us all. I urge the public to show their support for these heroes – they are the very best of us.”
Staff from the Royal Liverpool University Hospital join in a national applause for the NHS yesterday
Legendary music industry PR man Alan Edwards said: “A big thank-you and fundraise by staging an NHS concert would really be something practical and inspiring we could get behind at this terrible time when NHS workers are under such strain.”
Nigel Railton, chief executive of Camelot which runs the National Lottery, said: “It would be wonderful to stage a series of spectacular concerts and parties to thank our NHS heroes when all this is over.The public will dearly want to thank them for all they’re doing to save lives and keep us safe. I am sure everyone would come together and show their generosity for such incredible service.
“I know that I reflect the feeling of all of us involved with The National Lottery when I say that I feel so very grateful for the amazing work that carers and NHS workers do on the front line, day in, day out.
“They are national heroes and, with my family, I was on my doorstep last night to say thank you and let them know that the work they do, and the care they give means the world and makes us so proud of them.We’re staying home for you. Thank you for going to work for us and saving lives.” Gary Jones, Editor of the Daily Express, said: “We know our wonderful NHS workers are dedicated, but what they’re doing now for us all is truly inspirational, incredible and remarkable in so many ways.
“So let’s pledge that at some time soon we can throw those who’ve put their lives not just on hold, but at risk, the biggest and best thank-you party ever.
“As we clapped last night to acknowledge the wonderful work of our NHS warriors we’re sure that everyone will want to make it happen. Let’s do it.”
Royal thanks from Charlotte, Louis and George last night
The Daily Express would love to hear from anyone who can help stage these incredible concerts from venues, promoters and even the stars themselves. If you can pitch in, or know someone who can, email firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get the party for heroes started.
Royals join NHS applause
William and Kate’s children were among millions clapping our NHS heroes last night.
A video of George, Charlotte and Louis clapping was posted on the Kensington Royal Instagram account.
The caption said: “To all the doctors, nurses, carers, GPs, pharmacists, volunteers and other NHS staff working tirelessly to help those affected by COVID19: thank you.”
The Queen and her staff at Windsor Castle along with the Prime Minister and Chancellor in Downing Street joined with grateful Britons from 8pm to say thank-you to health workers.
Millions cheered from their doorsteps – including the Lonsdale family in Rogate, West Sussex – from windows, balconies and gardens while landmarks lit up in blue.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock
COMMENT BY LEO McKINSTRY
As the coronavirus crisis deepens, the British public’s admiration for the NHS is justifiably reaching new heights. Never in our history has this cherished institution been more vital to the survival of our way of life.
In the face of appalling risks and unprecedented burdens, the health service’s 1.5 million staff are showing a remarkable combination of heroism, compassion and stoicism. As one London surgeon put it this week: “We have to keep up a stern resolve. People are looking to the NHS in hope.”
The public’s support has already been demonstrated in many ways. None has been more striking than the extraordinary response to the Government’s call for NHS volunteers to assist with basic tasks like the delivery of supplies. More than half a million have signed up for duties, creating an army of benevolence.
Appreciation for the NHS can be found in other gestures, like the illumination of the Blackpool Tower in blue or the applause that rang out from homes last night. Food chains have offered discounts for NHS workers while Brighton Football Club is leading an initiative to give 100,000 free tickets to league matches.
But now comes a much bigger chance to demonstrate our gratitude. As a means of saying a gigantic, heartfelt thank you to our NHS heroes, this paper is today launching a major campaign to hold a series of concerts at venues throughout the UK, with a showpiece event at Wembley. Those invited would be the 1.5 million employees of our beloved health service. When the emergency is over, they deserve the most exuberant celebration that this country has seen in decades – and this paper intends to help give it to them.
The debt we owe the NHS is incalculable. Undaunted by danger, infused with altruism, its staff are now our defenders against the deadliest foe since the Second World War. When we come through this ordeal, our country will want to come together in joyous relief. There will be no more appropriate way of doing that than by concerts inspired by our love for the NHS. It is hard to imagine a finer cause or a more unifying theme.
The entertainment industry, which has already behaved with great generosity, can lead the way in making this dream a reality. We need the biggest stars, the most popular bands and the best promoters. Express readers can assist too, particularly with donations to underwrite the costs of the concerts and the tickets.
In 1985, the phenomenal success of Live Aid, organised by Sir Bob Geldof, transformed attitudes towards global poverty. Similarly, the success of this campaign could cement the central role of the NHS in our national life, ensuring it is properly funded and staff are given the rewards they merit. With brutal clarity, the coronavirus crisis has forced us to appreciate what is truly important in our society. And nothing should be valued more highly than the NHS – as we should show by laying on this unique party.
Leo McKinstry is a Daily Express columnist