The woman who started Britain’s round of applause for NHS workers has been flabbergasted by the response – including on her own doorstep.
Annemarie Plas, 36, from Streatham Hill, pictured above, had the idea for #ClapForOurCarers in early March after seeing something similar in her native Netherlands. She also saw footage of similar events in France and Spain.
But she never expected it to balloon into a nationwide phenomenon, which enters its third week tomorrow, and looks set to continue for several more until the end of lockdown.
She is also working with the #LightItBlue campaign, where landmark buildings flash blue across the UK every Thursday.
She is also planning a string of initiatives to support NHS staff in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, a final colossal applause as people end their isolation.
The mother of a two-year-old talked to friends to float the idea of clapping for carers – including NHS workers, care workers, pharmacists and supermarket staff. They helped her create a graphic for social media, set up a website and started sharing it online.
The weekend before the first event, the campaign exploded – the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Victoria Beckham were those who pledged support. In the end, most people who knew about it across the country joined in – including her neighbours.
Yoga instructor Ms Plas said: “It was a very emotional moment for me as I heard my neighbours that I haven’t seen for days on our – normally busy – road.
“I would have never have thought that the Beckhams and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would have supported it. We have also received such amazing pick up from the media as well, which has been incredible. I could not believe it when reporters started getting in touch.
“I was surprised to see Boris Johnson clapping on April 3, when he was ill. We could see that he was suffering – he was standing and leaning in the doorway. A complete change from the first Clap For Our Carers on March 25, where he stood outside clapping.
“I wanted to do it after hearing the first-hand experiences of friends back in the Netherlands, and how much it lifted the spirits of those in hospitals – patients and staff. I love the way it has brought communities together, as they self-isolate during lockdown. It also gives a chance for people to communicate, at a safe distance, with their neighbours.
“It went from clapping behind windows, to hanging out of them, to people – at safe distance – outside shouting.”
Ms Plas encouraged everyone to stand where they can while keeping a safe distance, in doorways, windows, balconies, gardens or living rooms – at 8pm every Thursday.
Ms Plas said: “Hopefully it can give some strength and a boost to whoever needs it. I hope it gives that boost to the front line people, people that we’ve often taken for granted. They can see how much we appreciate them. Without them we are no one.
“We will keep on clapping until the end of lockdown, and when we get there we will do one final clap, giving that to all those who were involved in the relief effort.
“The key workers will be facing the effects for much longer, so we could continue to give thanks to them. We are looking to raise money for the NHS Together charity, with a selection of ideas that we are currently working on. We are working with video sharking app TikTok, which is supporting the #ClapForOurCarers campaign through their network.”
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