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Our 10-week affair with clapping

28 May 2020

By Jamie Williams, Senior Executive

Annemarie Plas, a Dutch National living in South London initially got the idea from a Dutch WhatsApp group of her friends. When she introduced the concept of clapping for NHS workers to her UK pals, it was initially planned as a one-off event. Little did she know than in a matter of weeks, the Prime Minister, Daniel Craig and Kylie Minogue would be out on their doorsteps clapping in solidarity for all those who have continued to work to keep us healthy and the country going.  

The first event took place exactly ten weeks ago today, on the 26th March, three days after the country went into lockdown. It seems as if every week since has become a competition on who can be most imaginative in their noise. First it was children screaming. Then came the pots and pans, followed by musical instruments and car horns.  Not to mention the lights which have lit up The Shard, London Eye, Blackpool Tower and Windsor Castle in the NHS blue. The famous Harland & Wolff shipyard, our client, are due to sound their horn this evening which will be heard across Belfast. 

The event has now been called to an end. Annemarie says she has been "overwhelmed" by the support for the ritual, but that it would be best to end it "at its peak". She also feels the applause may have become too politicised. Perhaps she is referring to the “Clap for Boris” movement which took off whilst the Prime Minister was in hospital. Also, those on the left, including Owen Jones, called the concept an “insult” claiming whilst appreciation for the staff was nice, what they needed was PPE. The event has also seeped into street politics, with community members casting judging glances over to the houses of those who have failed to make an appearance. 

However, despite the inevitable British controversy, 8PM every Thursday will be missed by many. The clap provided elderly members of our communities the only brief social occasion of their week. It provided those workers, who so often feel overlooked and overworked, a sense of value. It was one of those few moments, along with the 2012 Olympics, where British society overcame its inherent social awkwardness (without the need for alcohol) and came together to recognise the efforts of millions.