NHS Birthday 2020: London Celebrates 72 Years of the NHS

Landmarks across London are gearing up to mark the NHS’ 72nd birthday on 5 July 2020

Lead image: © The Royal Parks

As the weekly Clap for Our Carers ritual comes to an end with one final thank you this weekend, marking the NHS’ 72nd birthday, numerous landmarks across London are gearing up to show their gratitude, too.

The Royal Parks has unveiled two special flowerbeds in front of Buckingham Palace, spelling out ‘NHS’ in giant letters. Containing 45,000 white begonias and blue succulents, each flowerbed, set in the iconic Memorial Gardens that form part of St James’s Park, measures 12×5 metres.

Every summer, the Memorial Gardens are planted with 22,500 plants, and always feature scarlet geraniums to match the tunics of The Queen’s Guard. This year marks the first variation of the design since potatoes were planted in the flowerbeds during the First World War.

‘We have a long tradition of commemorating events and major occasions through the use of carpet bedding,’ said Rob Dowling, Assistant Park Manager at St James’s Park.

‘For the Diamond Jubilee in 2012, a 3D crown was planted in St James’s Park, but this is the first time we have done this in the Memorial Gardens. [It’s] just a small token of our appreciation for all their hard work and dedication this year, and every year.’

Elsewhere, London landmarks including the Royal Albert Hall, National Gallery and Wembley Arch will join others across the UK, including Blackpool Tower and Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, that will be illuminated in blue to mark the NHS’ birthday.

The #LightItBlue campaign, organised by the entertainment industry, kicked off at the start of lockdown to celebrate country’s healthcare heroes and key workers, and will once again turn the UK skyline blue on Saturday 4 July.

The #LightItBlue illuminations will pay tribute not only to the NHS staff that have helped us battle coronavirus, but to everyone who has contributed since the National Health Service’s 1948 inception.

On Regent Street, and across the West End, an installation of 200 giant ‘thank you’ flags has been installed, paying tribute to all key workers who have supported the public through the pandemic.

The flags, bearing the hashtag #OurHeroes, can also be seen on Regent Street St James’s, Oxford Street and Bond Street.

Grosvenor Britain & Ireland has also commissioned striking flags for Mayfair & Belgravia featuring messages of thanks for the NHS and key workers.

The vibrant flags have each been designed by celebrated artists as further businesses open up across the district from Saturday 4 July, and remain in situ will for two months.

Award-winning British designer Alex Fowkes has designed flags for Mayfair’s Mount Street, North Audley, Duke Street and South Molton, while the ‘Belgravia Sunrise’ creations of New London Fabulous artist Adam Nathaniel Furman adorn Elizabeth Street, Motcomb Street, Pimlico Road and Eccleston Street.

In Greenwich, Up at The O2, the ‘urban mountaineering’ attraction that leads adventurers over the rooftop of the huge entertainment venue, invited back NHS staff who worked within the NHS Training Facility at The O2 arena to enjoy a free climb ahead of its reopening on 4 July.

The final Clap for Our Carers is scheduled to take place at 5pm on 5 July 2020.


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