RESIDENTS across the nation are being asked to come together on Sunday, July 5 to applaud the NHS on its 72nd anniversary - with hopes the occasion will become an annual event.

This nationwide event will thank all those who have been helping us through the pandemic and recognise the vital community connections that continue to support us all.

Broadcasters will suspend normal transmissions at 5pm as people across the country pause what they’re doing to think of others.

On July 4, the evening before, people will also be asked to put a light in their windows in remembrance of those lost to the pandemic.

Public buildings will also be lit up in blue for the NHS including the Royal Albert Hall, Blackpool Tower, the Shard and the Wembley Arch.

In St Helens the Steve Prescott Bridge will follow suit.

Following the applause, organisers hope people will enjoy a drink or a cup of tea and reflect with family, friends and neighbours on the bonds that have sustained us in recent months.

It will be a wholly inclusive occasion, with those still shielding also encouraged to take part in any way they feel able to.

The NHS itself will be saying its own big thank you to everybody who has helped it continue doing its job in the face of the biggest health challenge it has ever faced.

Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive, said: “This year has been the most challenging in NHS history, with staff displaying extraordinary dedication, skill and compassion to care for the 100,000 patients with Covid-19 who needed specialist hospital treatment and many others besides.

“During this testing time our nurses, doctors, physios, pharmacists and countless more colleagues were sustained by the support of the public, not least through the weekly applause for key workers.

“No health service, not even the NHS, could have coped alone with this coronavirus pandemic.

“From bus drivers and teachers to care staff and food retailers and, of course, the public who took action to stay at home to stop infection spreading, everyone played their part.

“The NHS’s anniversary this year not only offers the opportunity for us to say thank you to the nation, but for us all to come together at 5pm to pause and recognise all the work which has taken place in the last months and say a heartfelt thank you.”

Support for the initiative has come from individuals and families all across the UK as well as grassroots community leaders, carers, emergency workers, sportspeople, religious leaders and celebrities

The Premier League, Scouts, Girl Guiding, WI, and the British Paralympics Association are among the supporting organisations.