RESIDENTS in Runcorn and Widnes are being encouraged to join in the country's biggest thank you to the NHS this weekend.

The poignant events - which will fall on the NHS' 72nd birthday weekend - will honour all key workers, 'good neighbours' and those who have been helping throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

There will be a minute’s silence on Saturday evening when people will be asked to (safely) light a candle in their window in remembrance of all who have died during this time.

This will be followed by a moment of thanks and connection on Sunday when residents take part in one last country-wide clap of thanks at 5pm.

It is aimed to thank everyone from truck drivers and cleaners to doctors and shelf stackers, all of the key workers who have kept us going.

This includes dedicated Halton Borough Council staff, who have worked tirelessly to keep services running and support the most vulnerable through the pandemic.

Halton Borough Council Leader, Cllr Rob Polhill, said: "It will also be a thank you to our neighbours, the ones who did the shopping, got the prescriptions, kept an eye on each other or simply did their best to stay home and save lives.

"This day will be the start of the campaign for a kinder, closer and more connected country.

"Halton Borough Council has been at the heart of the effort, locally with dedicated staff maintaining most of our existing services through the crisis including social workers visiting families while social distancing, rubbish being collected and parks regularly cleaned."

This has also involved including looking after 3,880 shielded residents, hot meals delivered to schools for the vulnerable and children of key workers and 610 emergency food deliveries.

Staff dealt with almost 5,000 calls to our dedicated Covid helpline, got LilyCross ready to accept patients, taking the strain off hospitals, in just four weeks.

They have sorted out 500 hours of extra domicilliary care, distributed 572 laptops to vulnerable children.

The home library service has come into its own, with 700 books delivered and almost 190,000 articles through our press reader.

Staff have adapted with many services going online. There were 2million social media impressions so far.

Cllr Polhill explained why Halton was supporting the campaign.

He said: “This will be a moment to come together and thank all of those who are helping us get through this ongoing crisis.

"As a council we have worked with partners across the public sector to get people through this pandemic. and want to support this campaign to say thank you to all our partners as well as the many dedicated councill workers who haven't stopped working to put residents first."