East Kent Mencap among those marking Frontline Workers’ Day on 73rd anniversary of NHS

CEO Jason Gerlack with the EKM mug proudly raising a toast to his extraordinary staff

Thanet-based charity East Kent Mencap is taking part in NHS, Social Care & Frontline Workers’ Day today (July 5) to celebrate all those who have worked  tirelessly throughout the Coronavirus crisis, and who continue to support some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Organised nationally by Pageant master Bruno Peek LVO OBE OPR, NHS, Social Care & Frontline Workers’ Day is marked by events throughout the United Kingdom, Channel Islands, the Isle of Man.

The date is the 73rd anniversary of the creation of the NHS, which has collectively been awarded the George Cross by Her Majesty the Queen for 73 years dedicated service and its response to Covid

East Kent Mencap CEO Jason Gerlack said: “It’s been a tough year for our staff but they have worked tirelessly to maintain a service for people with a learning disability. Their commitment and sense of duty was an inspiration to everyone and this is our chance to say a huge thank you to every single one of them for their extraordinary work.”

As they can’t all get together, each staff member is being given a specially designed mug as a symbol of thanks and being invited to take a couple of minutes out of their day today to enjoy a brew whilst quietly reflecting on what they’ve achieved.

‘Historic moment’

NHS, Social Care & Frontline Workers’ Day was conceived by Pageant master Bruno Peek, who has organised national and royal events for 40 years, including key aspects of Her Majesty The Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee celebrations and 90th Birthday Beacons celebration.

Bruno said: “July 5, 1948 was an historic moment in our country’s history. It was the day our pioneering National Health Service (NHS) was born, bringing free healthcare to everyone. We have treasured it ever since, but never more so since March 2020 when the Coronavirus pandemic gripped the UK and utterly changed all our lives.

“We were suddenly at war with a ruthless, invisible enemy and on the front line were our NHS doctors, nurses and paramedics, plus platoons of critical workers keeping our shops open and stocked, our streets safe and our essential services running.

“Now we have the chance to show our gratitude to all NHS and frontline staff with what I believe will be an annual day of thanks, and remembrance of those who lost their lives because of this dreadful disease.”

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said of the George Cross award: “This unprecedented award rightly recognises the skill and compassion and the fortitude of staff right across the National Health Service – the nurses, the paramedics, the doctors, the cleaners, the therapists, the entire team– who under the most demanding of circumstances have responded to the worst pandemic in a century and the greatest challenge this country has faced since the Second World War.

“Out of those dark times have come the best of what it means to be a carer and a health professional.

“In the face of adversity we have seen extraordinary team work, not just across the NHS but involving hundreds of thousands of volunteers, millions of carers, key workers and the British public who have played an indispensable role in helping the health service to look after many hundreds of thousands of seriously ill patients with coronavirus.

“And so, as we congratulate staff across the health service on this award, we recognise that completing the NHS COVID vaccination programme which is in the final stages is now the surest way out of this pandemic and provides a sense of hope.”

East Kent Mencap, which was also established in 1948, kept its services for people with a learning disability and their families open throughout the pandemic, providing critical community, day and domiciliary care, to ensure that people received the key support they needed.  Staff and volunteers remained in regular contact with over 150 individuals, keeping their spirits up with deliveries of activity packs, and ran online events for hundreds more.

More information on NHS, Social Care & Frontline Workers’ Day can be found at www.nhsfrontlineday.org