Region says ‘thank you’ to lockdown heroes

Communities across the South West will come together this Sunday to say ‘thank you’ to the everyday heroes who have played their part in helping to get through lockdown.

From community choirs performing at care homes and BBQs in parks to celebratory street parties and ‘tidy-ups’, residents will join forces to show their gratitude as part of the UK’s first national ‘Thank You Day’ on Sunday, July 4. 

The day will recognise the remarkable actions of people who have gone above and beyond for the community during the pandemic.

The campaign has won huge support from organisations including the NHS and the Scouts and from high profile individuals including Gary Lineker, Michael Sheen, Dame Judi Dench, Raheem Sterling and many more.

May Parsons, the NHS nurse who gave the first COVID-19 vaccination and who was one of the original proposers of the day said: “We knew people wanted a chance to get together in a socially distanced and responsible way, so we can all say thank you, and the scale of the public’s response has blown us all away.

“This is going to be an important national moment and we want everyone to join us – safely, and in line with government guidance – in the country’s biggest ever thank you party.” 

Young people who have gone above and beyond during the pandemic have been invited to a BBQ at 10 Downing Street. Eight-year-old Arthur Stone from Bristol will be attending the BBQ after taking on a challenge to cover 20k and raising over £11,000 for charity, despite losing both of his legs below the knee at the age of six. Arthur lost parts of his legs due to a severe form of meningitis and is now donating the money he has raised to the charity LimbPower.  

Locally, there is an extensive line-up of events planned, including an online afternoon tea for volunteers who help out at Wye Gymnastics and Galaxy Cheerleading inCaldicot. 

Taunton youth charity In The Mix Project will hold a celebration event on Sunday for its volunteers, local community champions and key workers. The event will be hosted from its wildlife and outdoor activity space.

A full timetable of activities has been developed across the country throughout Sunday, July 4:

  • 9am: Join in an hour’s exercise across our country’s parks and green spaces.
  • 11am: Power Hour – Keep Britain Tidy, the RSPB and Rotary are organising an hour’s tidy up of parks and green spaces
  • 1pm: The Big Lunch are organising small street parties and picnics to get neighbours together.
  • 3pm: Led by Together with Music – community choirs and schools will gather outside care homes and hospitals to perform their version of the Fleetwood Mac classic “Don’t Stop” to thank residents, patients and staff for everything they have given over the past year.
  • 5pm: ‘Cheers for Volunteers’ – led by Ross Kemp and the Royal Voluntary Service – is encouraging people to raise a glass or a cuppa with their neighbours. The initiative is backed by thousands of pubs across the country.
  • 7pm: The country’s biggest ever BBQ with neighbours, led by Levi Roots, the Scouts and the National Citizens Service.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I pay tribute to all those who have gone above and beyond to help others throughout the pandemic – it has been truly inspiring to view the astonishing national effort from people across the country. I look forward to hosting local community leaders, NHS workers, representatives from the Royal Voluntary Service and several of our Points of Light Award winners this weekend to celebrate Thank You Day and extend my personal and heartfelt thanks.”

Having started as a grassroots campaign the day now has a host of high-level supporters:

Ross Kemp said: “I’m going to be taking part in Cheers for Volunteers in my local that weekend. We’ve all been through a grim 18 months but our community spirit is one of the things that has kept us going. I’m going to raise a glass to everyone who has helped our communities get this far.”

Simon Cowell said: “‘Don’t Stop’ is a great song choice for the Thank You Day on July 4th and I hope everyone has a fantastic day. This day obviously is about saying thank you, and on a personal note, I would like to say thank you to all of the healthcare workers for an incredible job.”

Levi Roots, who together with the Scouts and the National Citizens service is the driving force behind what he hopes will be the country’s biggest ever BBQ said: “This BB-Thank-Q is a chance to reconnect with our friends, neighbours and community over hot coals and gorgeous food. What better way to say thank you to each other than to share some of your best recipes?”  

The day has also secured huge backing from the sporting world including the Football Association, Wimbledon, the English Cricket Board and Rugby League and Union. 

England captain Harry Kane said: “We wanted to be part of saying thank you to everyone who has got us through the past 18 months. We all have people to be grateful for and the national ‘Thank You Day’ is a moment we’re proud to be a part of. Whoever you’re thanking, join your neighbours and communities and say thank you together.”

School children are joining in the day by filling in a huge national thank you card designed by author and illustrator Charlie Mackesy that was unveiled at Wimbledon this week before going on display at the People’s History Museum in Manchester.

The campaign started as a grassroots movement and has grown from just 13 individuals to become a nationwide event supported by hundreds of organisations, including Virgin Media O2. 

Community Connectors will help to facilitate and run events and activities on Thank You Day which are designed to have a lasting, positive impact on those communities.

Virgin Media O2 is also supporting Together Coalition’s ‘Community Connectors’ initiative by investing in 10 communities across the UK, to better understand how hyper-local funding can support community connection in areas of lower social capital and supercharge local charities and groups that champion and celebrate spirit, belonging and togetherness across the UK. 

As part of this support Virgin Media O2 launched a £500,000 ‘Together Fund’. Grants of £1,000 have been received by environmental and community belonging projects, inspiring people across the UK to get together and create positive change for the causes they care most about. 

The Together Fund, distributed via the Neighbourly platform, forms part of Virgin Media O2’s support for the Together Coalition, which aims to bring people together to help build a kinder, closer and more connected society.