Here is why Britain is celebrating 'Thank You Day' on 4 July

It’s not only Americans who are celebrating a national day on 4 July, as the UK will also show gratitude on its first ever ‘Thank You Day’.

Over the past year and a half, Brits have clapped for carers, raised millions of pounds for the NHS and supported their neighbours and local communities to cope with the coronavirus.

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Thank You Day has been recognised by political leaders, from the Prime Minister to the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales.

So, what is Thank You Day for, what events will take place and will it continue every year? This is what you need to know.

What is National Thank You Day?

National Thank You Day is a celebration of everyone who helped others during the pandemic, from lorry drivers who dropped off the shopping to teachers who persisted with Zoom classes and doctors who spent over 12 hours a day wearing masks and PPE.

The date has been chosen as it is the day before the NHS’s birthday, and comes at a time when restrictions are finally beginning to significantly ease and people can gather again.

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The idea started from 13 people who proposed a special day of thanks, and has since grown into a campaign supported by sports personalities, political leaders, the scouts and guides, religious groups and the media.

There is no strict plan for the day, but celebrations have been arranged across the country and more local events have been planned. Schools, sports clubs and churches have all agreed to get involved.

How is it being celebrated around the UK?

From barbecues to baking cakes, people can make as much or as little effort as they have time for.

At 1pm, ‘Big Lunch’ events will kick off around the UK - sponsored by Ainsley Harriott. The events hope to bring people who have been living alone or isolated for much of the past year together, with delicious food and massive helpings of gratitude.

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The Prime Minister will also be treated to a barbecue, hosted by Reggie Reggie celebrity chef, Levi Roots.

Boris Johnson said of the day’s events: “I pay tribute to all those who have gone above and beyond to help others throughout the pandemic – it has been truly inspiring to view the astonishing national effort from people across the country.

“I look forward to hosting local community leaders, NHS workers, representatives from the Royal Voluntary Service and several of our Points of Light Award winners this weekend to celebrate Thank You Day and extend my personal and heartfelt thanks.”

In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon will host a Tartan Tea party to mark the day with Scottish Parliament staff and their families.

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“Thank You Day gives us the opportunity to express in person our gratitude to those who go out of their way to offer their time and help – and I am hugely grateful to all those who have done so already and continue to do so. By heeding the various rules and public health advice and enabling others to do the same, you are protecting the vulnerable and helping suppress the virus,” she said.

Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales, thanked the NHS for their ‘heroic effort’.

He said: “This is a great chance to thank those who have been supporting us during the pandemic. We have seen a heroic effort by NHS staff, key workers and volunteers to ensure that we get through this difficult period.”

Elsewhere, Coventry Cathedral hosted an interfaith gathering at 9.30am to bring different faith groups together to share their appreciation for the work of local communities.

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Levi Roots will also host a barbecue for young people at Myatt’s Fields Park, in south London, from 5pm to 9pm.

Will there be a Thank You Day every year?

It is not yet known whether the day will see national celebrations held across the UK annually, though there are often celebrations around the 5 July for the NHS.