ICONIC landmarks across the region are turning blue this weekend to celebrate the NHS’s 72nd birthday.

From York’s historic city walls, to the Penshaw Monument in Sunderland and Durham County Hall, the blue lights display coincides with a weekend of celebrating the National Health Service and its workers.

The region’s landmarks will light up blue on Saturday evening as part of a national #LightItBlue campaign which will also see the likes of the Blackpool Tower, the Royal Albert Hall, The Shard and Wembley Arch turn blue for the NHS.

And on Sunday evening at 5pm the nation is being encouraged to once again clap for the NHS to mark the special anniversary which comes following a particularly challenging time for the health service.

The Northern Echo:

Richard Barker, NHS regional director for North East and Yorkshire, said the 72nd anniversary of the creation of the service was an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who had helped respond to the coronavirus pandemic and remember those who had lost their lives.

He said: “2020 has perhaps been the most challenging year in the history of the NHS.

“To respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, the NHS has stepped up to redesign services, recruit thousands more staff and volunteers and even build hospitals – including NHS Nightingale Yorkshire and Humber.

“We are grateful to everyone involved – frontline workers, thousands of colleagues who returned to the NHS and staff in the health and social care sectors.

“We also want to say thank you to the countless individuals and organisations in this region for the way they responded to the pandemic.

“Key workers such as bus drivers, refuse collectors, shopworkers and carers have all played a vital role.

“The public embraced lockdown measures to help protect the NHS, helped neighbours with shopping and observed social distancing measures. The NHS is grateful to the whole nation for its efforts – great and small.”

Alongside Light It Blue on Saturday evening, NHS leaders are asking everyone to put a light in their windows in remembrance of people who, sadly, lost their lives during the pandemic.