An evening of thanks for NHS and frontline heroes

First published on: 13th April 2022

A service of commemoration and reflection was held in Hexham Abbey to thank NHS staff and frontline workers for their bravery and determination throughout the Covid pandemic. 


The event was hosted by The Duchess of Northumberland in her capacity as Lord Lieutenant and organised by a partnership including the abbey, the NHS and Northumberland County Council. 

Over 250 people who all worked tirelessly to save lives including doctors, nurses, surgeons and paramedics were invited to attend.  


Also in attendance were key frontline workers who ensured all vital services were still delivered within the county as well as those who volunteered to help run testing and vaccination centres, food banks and those delivering food and medicines to residents who were shielding. 

Her Grace, The Duchess of Northumberland said: “The Covid pandemic has affected each and every one of us in different ways. There has been much hardship and loss, but we have also witnessed extraordinary acts of bravery and care from so many people as they worked selflessly and tirelessly to help those in need. 

“This special service has provided a time to reflect and give thanks for the amazing work and sacrifices of the many key workers and unsung heroes who have cared for our communities and kept us safe. It is also a time to remember those who tragically lost their lives to this devastating virus. 

“Across Northumberland there have been so many people who helped in so many ways throughout the pandemic that we could have filled the abbey three times over, and I’d also like to say a personal thank you to everyone who played their own important part. We have all been humbled and amazed at the selflessness and dedication of those in our communities who went out of their way to help others.” 

Three guest speakers talked about their own experience of what things were like for them during the pandemic. Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s Dr Chris Biggin an A&E consultant at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital who not only worked throughout, but also caught covid and recovered from it gave a moving account of his experiences as both an emergency consultant and a patient being care for by the trust’s critical care team.  

He said: “We will always care for our patients and their families, and possibly we now better understand how important it is to care for ourselves and each other. The service was very moving, and it was very special that so many different people from different walks of life had the opportunity to come together to pay very special tribute to all key workers, those who have been or who are still ill, those that sadly died and those grieving the loss of loved ones. I feel very privileged to have been able to attend and take part in the service.” 


Candles were lit, prayers read, and hymns were sung by The Hexham Abbey Choir and the congregation. 


Revd Canon David Glover, Rector of Hexham Abbey, said: “It was a wonderful yet poignant occasion to come together and give thanks for our wonderful NHS staff, frontline workers and all those who have worked so hard over the past two years to keep us safe and keep the country afloat.


“The service reminded us of the many sacrifices made by so many people, their tireless efforts to protect those around them, and their incredible acts of bravery – both small and big – that are helping us to overcome this pandemic.


“We were honoured to hold this special service in the abbey, which has been a place of welcome, comfort and support to many throughout history, and particularly throughout the pandemic.”

A collection on the evening will be shared between the abbey and the mental health charity MIND. 

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