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Candles lit in International Nurses Day tribute

People are lighting candles in their windows to pay tribute to nurses working through the coronavirus pandemic.

The flames close a day of commemorations marking International Nurses Day, held on the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale.

Parliament offered its own thank you by projecting an image of the founder of modern nursing on to the Palace of Westminster.

St Thomas’ Hospital across the river joined suit, with a composite image of Nightingale and a modern nurse displayed on the riverside buildings where Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent several days in intensive care with Covid-19 last month.

The Speaker of the House of Commons gave his thanks to the “healthcare workers putting their own lives at risk to treat patients with Covid-19”.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle added: “It is an honour to have her image projected on to Parliament as part of our national appreciation for the NHS and everyone who works for it.”

An image of Florence Nightingale is projected on to St Thomas’ Hospital (Victoria Jones/PA)
An image of Florence Nightingale is projected on to St Thomas’ Hospital (Victoria Jones/PA)

His sentiments were echoed by the Health Secretary who said he learnt about the profession from his grandmother who was a nurse.

In a video posted on Twitter, Matt Hancock said: “Most of all I want to say thank you to all the nurses that we have in the NHS right across the UK for the work that you’re doing which is so compassionate, so hard, and so rewarding.”

Earlier on Tuesday, one hospital trust marked the anniversary by naming all of its nurses “nurse of the year”.

Gail Byrne, chief nursing officer at University Hospital Southampton, called nursing staff “all superheroes” and said in a letter to staff: “We would normally be holding our nurses’ day celebrations and awards today, which we will do this at some point, but my chief nursing officer ‘nurse of the year’ award this year goes to all of you.”

The royal family have also expressed their gratitude through video chats and phone calls.

The Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Princess Royal, the Countess of Wessex and Princess Alexandra all paid tribute to nurses’ “incredible work”.

In a montage of the calls, messages and videos released on social media, Kate said: “I don’t know how you manage to do this and keep the show on the road despite the extra pressures you’re all under and the challenging conditions – it’s just shown how vital the role that nurses play across the world.

“You should be so proud of the work that you do.”

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