‘Very moving’ - Crowds gather to see NHS Spitfire pay tribute over hospitals
PUBLISHED: 17:17 10 July 2020 | UPDATED: 09:52 11 July 2020
Matthew Usher Photography
NHS staff were given a thank you from the skies with a special Spitfire flypast at two of Norfolk’s biggest hospitals.
Workers gathered outside the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King’s Lynn and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) to see the classic aeroplane circle overhead with the message ‘THANK U NHS’ under its wings.
Staff were joined by patients, some wheeled outside especially to see the flypast, and crowds of onlookers.
The blue Spitfire, operated by family-owned engineering firm The Aircraft Restoration Company, took off from Duxford Airfield in Cambridgeshire, for the special flights on Friday afternoon.
The iconic plane managed to avoid showers to fly above both the King’s Lynn and Norwich hospitals without onlookers getting rained on, before making its way down to Suffolk and Essex.
On its first flight it flew over both Northampton General Hospital and Peterborough City hospital before passing over the QEH at around 3.36pm where it was welcomed by cheers from those on the ground.
Among those who saw it was Mark Doads who tweeted: “Very moving when your son and daughter-in-law work there.”
The Spitfire can reach speeds of up to 369mph and it flew over mid-Norfolk before circling over the NNUH about 15 minutes later.
The NNUH tweeted: “Thank you to the resplendent NHS Spitfire for your fly past at NNUH this afternoon. We even ordered some sunshine for your visit.”
It then headed down through south Norfolk into Suffolk to fly over RAF Lakenheath Hospital and then the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich Hospital, Colchester Hospital and Earls Colne Air Ambulance base.
The plane was carrying a special message on its fuselage.
An online fundraiser to mark the NHS’ 72nd Birthday last weekend allowed the names of those who pledged £10 or more to NHS Charities Together to be handwritten onto the craft – 80,000 names in total.
The Aircraft Restoration Company said: “The aim is to lift the spirits of those across the UK, many of whom are still living in some form of isolation, whilst also thanking the hospitals, communities and individuals who have been at the forefront of getting the country through the pandemic.”
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