A NATIONWIDE clap to thank the NHS will take place on Sunday (July 5), which is hoped to become an annual tradition.

Following the success of the weekly Clap for Carers, people will be encouraged to reflect on the heroes of the pandemic with family and friends at 5pm on July 5 – the 72nd anniversary of the NHS.

Broadcasters will also suspend transmissions for a moment as a mark of respect.

Over the weekend public buildings and landmarks have been turning blue, including the Steve Prescott Bridge in St Helens.

This year has been such a challenging time for the NHS so the 72nd birthday feels super special.

Locally, an event will be taking place at Whiston Hospital, with Rainhill singer Jessica McDonald - who amazed audiences with her street performances on Thursday nights during the pandemic - set to take a leading role.

St Helens Star:

Jessica McDonald from Rainhill will be singing A Rainbow of Love

In a statement the hospital said: "Staff from across our Trust will be coming together at 5pm outside of A&E to say #ThankYouTogether and applaud all the people who have helped us through the pandemic.

"We’ll be joined by a very special guest too! Jessica McDonald from Rainhill will be singing A Rainbow of Love for NHS Staff and their families and we can’t wait!

"We hope you can join us in person or on our social channels. #STHKThankyou#NHSBirthday."

READ>An open letter of thanks from Whiston Hospital chief

Meanwhile, NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said he hopes the public will use the anniversary as an opportunity to “say a heartfelt thank you” to hospital staff.

Sir Simon 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 nationwide clap has been organised following a letter from the Together coalition, in which influential figures including Sir Simon and the Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Rev Justin Welby voiced their support for making July 5 an official day of commemoration.