THREE Northern Care Alliance NHS Group staff and a volunteer who were on the frontline in the battle against COVID-19 will be at the heart of a special service of commemoration and thanksgiving to be held at St Paul’s Cathedral on Monday 5 July, the anniversary of the health service’s foundation.
Shaun Furlong, volunteer manager, Rochdale Infirmary; Julie Cooper, integrated neighbourhood lead, Bury Community Services; Rosemarie Nyaranga, volunteer dining room companion, Salford Royal; and Joanne Appleton, pharmacy technician, GM Etihad Vaccination Centre; will take part in the socially distanced service.
Led by the Very Reverend Dr David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s and the Right Reverend and Right Honourable Dame Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London, it will recognise the dedication and commitment of all those who have played their part in combating coronavirus across the NHS, care sector and beyond.
Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, professorship of vaccinology at the Jenner Institute, who designed the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine and Professor Sir Peter Horby, who helped run the NHS trial that found the first effective treatment for COVID-19, dexamethasone, will be among those attending.
Actor Lydia West, and others who played a part in promoting vaccine uptake, will also be among guests.
They will join NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens, NHS medical director Professor Stephen Powis, and England’s chief nurse Ruth May among others.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “The NHS’s anniversary follows a uniquely challenging year for the health service and for the country.
“Twelve months ago, we all hoped the worst of coronavirus was behind us, but instead amazing NHS staff had to contend with a winter wave of infections even greater than the first.
“They rose to the challenge, not just providing care to coronavirus and other patients but, supported by volunteers and countless others, have also delivered the NHS COVID Vaccine programme with unrivalled speed and precision.
“This service is an opportunity for the whole country to reflect on the toll the virus has taken since the start of the pandemic and give thanks to the nurses, doctors, therapists, paramedics and countless other NHS staff, other key workers and everyone else including all those members of the public who played their full part”.
The NCA is delighted to see four of its team recognised at the national event.
Julie said: “I am thrilled to have been invited to the national service of thanksgiving anniversary at St Paul’s, it gives me immense pride to represent the Northern Care Alliance as part of the NHS and all my colleagues who have worked tirelessly over the last 18 months in unprecedented times, I feel very honoured.”
Shaun said: “I’m immensely proud to lead a fantastic team of 52 talented, very hard working, volunteers at Rochdale Infirmary and vaccination hub. It’s their hard work and the smiles they bring to the faces of patients and staff, as much as anything, that is being recognised. I’m honoured and humbled to have been nominated and very excited to be going to St Paul’s Cathedral to represent our team.”
Joanne said: “I am honoured and excited to have been nominated and chosen to attend the NHS73 national service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral; it is great that pharmacy have been recognised for their contribution and hard work in setting up and delivering the biggest vaccination programme the NHS has seen.”
Rosemarie said: “There is so much to be very grateful for at this time. It is very humbling and has been a great honour and privilege to volunteer during the global pandemic. I am particularly grateful for this opportunity to be able to represent the thousands of volunteers. We have all been given the opportunity to reach out and touch someone's life for the better and bring hope during the bleak days. Thank you so much for celebrating our NHS staff and all the countless who worked tirelessly behind the scenes. There is so much to be thankful for.”
Dr Emily Lawson, NHS England’s operational lead for the NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme who will also attend, said:
“It is remarkable that so much has been achieved in such a difficult year.
“NHS staff, supported by volunteers and many others, have done a phenomenal job of vaccinating people, starting with those most at risk.
“However, we are not done yet and the best ‘birthday’ present you can give the NHS is to get a jab if you have not already done so – you are protecting yourself, your family and your friends”.
The service will follow national Thank You Day, organised by the Together Coalition, which takes place on 4 July.