A special online programme to honour the NHS and emergency services was broadcast at on social media on Friday, 4th September.
The Emergency Services Festival of Thanksgiving (999 Festival) was scheduled to have been held in Belfast Cathedral this afternoon, but the Coronavirus caused the event to be cancelled.
The 999 Festival is an annual event which takes place on the nearest Friday to 999 Day (9th September). It brings together senior politicians, emergency services and the public to show their united appreciation to those who work in the NHS and emergency services.
Guests participating in the online programme included HRH The Duke of Cambridge; the First Ministers of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
The programme included singing from the Blue Light Choir and videos from the Chairs of the Police, Fire and Ambulance Councils and Director of Her Majesty’s Coastguard.
The 999 Festival, which is multi-faith and rotates across the UK, includes a wreath laying ceremony to remember the more than 7,500 emergency services personnel who have lost their lives as a result of their duty. Over 300 members of the NHS and emergency services have tragically lost their lives after contracting the Coronavirus whilst on duty.
In the programme, HRH The Duke of Cambridge will say:
“This year, more than ever, we have been repeatedly reminded of the sacrifices made by all those in the emergency responder community, as they worked tirelessly to protect us against COVID-19 and keep the country going in the most challenging circumstances… They showcase the very best that our country has to offer, and this is never more apparent than at times like these.”
During the programme the First Minister of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster MLA, will say: “Every second of every day, our emergency services are there for each of us. From the person who takes the call to the first responders on the scene, these are highly skilled professionals who ago above and beyond to save lives and protect us from harm.”
First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, will say: “We’ve been reminded in recent months of the extraordinary contribution of the emergency services as they have been at the forefront of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s not just at these times of crisis that we depend on our emergency services, each and every day they help to ensure our safety and provide urgent care, support and treatment to those who need it.
“During this Emergency Services Festival of Thanksgiving, it is right that we recognise and reflect on that contribution and I want to thank all of our emergency workers for the tremendous work they have done. It is hugely appreciated by all of us.”
During the programme the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford MS, will say: “At the start of this year, our emergency services were responding to unprecedented flooding, as storm Ciara and Dennis brought widespread destruction to so many parts of Wales. Then in March, in the grip of a pandemic, the majority of Wales came to a full stop, and whilst most could only play their part by staying at home, our emergency services continued their long and proud tradition of reacting and working swiftly, effectively and above all selflessly in times of crisis.”
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock MP, will say: “Our emergency services and frontline NHS workers play a pivotal role in keeping us safe, and have worked tirelessly to protect us all throughout this pandemic.
“This has never been more true than during the unprecedented times we have been through over recent months in our fight against Coronavirus.
“We are all incredibly grateful for your continued hard work, and I am honoured to participate in this special online programme to express my thanks to everybody in our emergency services and NHS.”
Tom Scholes-Fogg, Founder and CEO of the 999 Festival, said: “Given events in our country and across the globe we simply could not let this year go by without honouring our 999 heroes.
Mr Scholes-Fogg added: “We are incredibly honoured that HRH The Duke of Cambridge, the First Ministers and Health Secretary agreed to participate in this special online programme. We are also delighted that the excellent Blue Light Choir are performing for us. The emergency services is about partnership, and events such as the 999 Festival where the NHS and emergency services are together as equal partners is important.”
Belfast will now host this important event in September 2021.
How to watch the 999 Festival of Thanksgiving 2020:
Facebook: @999Cenotaph, @999Festival and @Official999Day
Twitter: @999Cenotaph, @999Festival and @999Day
Website: 999Festival.org.uk, 999Cenotaph.org.uk, 999Day.org.uk, NESM.org.uk