Fundraising phenomenon Capt Tom, 99, wants the frontline workers added to a roll call of those whose selfless duty and sacrifice is being immortalised for ever. Plans are under way for a 999 cenotaph with £3million needed to fulfil the dream. The National Emergency Services Memorial would honour the two million men and women who work for police, fire, ambulance and associated organisations.
It would also be a poignant national symbol of remembrance for the more than 7,000 personnel and volunteers who have perished in the line of duty.
Decorated former soldier Tom, who served in the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment during the Second World War, said: “It is absolutely fitting and right that those who have given their lives fighting this dreadful pandemic should be remembered for ever.
“These brave men and women were emergency workers who laid down their lives. It is no different from those who made the ultimate sacrifice during military service. We shall remember them.”
Capt Tom, who lives with his daughter and her family in Marston Moretaine, Beds, has become a national hero after his appeal fund for the NHS reached £28million.
For the past fortnight he has been walking laps of his garden to raise funds for those putting their lives on the line every day. The new symbol of remembrance is supported by the Duke of Cambridge, himself a former Air Ambulance pilot.
Prince William said: “As a society we owe our wellbeing, and indeed our lives, to the men and women in our emergency services who work tirelessly to protect us.
“It is only fitting we should recognise the vital role they play and pay tribute to the bravery and dedication of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their communities.”
The Daily Express and its army of readers have joined calls for the NHS frontline heroes to be formally recognised. It is hoped their names will now be added to the list of those who perished before them.
The monument will be the first national tribute to all who have served in the emergency services.
It is hoped the memorial, created by sculptor Philip Jackson, will be built in London and serve as a permanent symbol of gratitude, sacrifice and remembrance.
The design features five figures representing the emergency services and a spaniel to represent all the animals they use.
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Professor Narinder Kapur, of University College London, said: “I am pleased the Daily Express is putting forward a proposal for a memorial for those healthcare staff who have died as a result of catching coronavirus during their line of duty.”
TV star Robert Rinder, whose 92-year-old grandfather died from coronavirus earlier this month, said: “The sacrifice of our frontline NHS healthcare workers, who were prepared to gift us their lives to save others, must always be remembered.”
Dame Esther Rantzen, 79, added: “This is a very important campaign because our health and care workers are heroes fighting on the frontline in a crucial battle for humanity.”
You can give cash towards the appeal at nesm.org.uk/donate.
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