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Clap for carers: Health workers speak of motivation and inspiration behind weekly cheer across Northern Ireland

Healthcare workers across Northern Ireland have spoken of the inspiration and motivation the now weekly Clap for Carers gives them.

They said the scenes of people coming out to show their appreciation gave them a sense of real pride in being on the frontline of the coronavirus battle.

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A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS  on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS  on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS  on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS  on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS  on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS  on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS  on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS  on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS  on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS  on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS  on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS  on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

A piper plays for NHS staff at the RVH in Belfast as Northern Ireland claps for the NHS on April 23rd 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Now in its fifth week, the national clap for carers sees people line the streets up and down the country to show their support and gratitude for key workers facing down the virus each day.

In Belfast the sound of the shipyard siren was heard for the first time in decades as it joined in the celebration while in Derry the former Ebrington shirt factory horn was heard across the city.

Landmarks and public buildings have also lit up blue across Northern Ireland.

Martina Finn a specialist nurse at the Ulster Hospital said it was "overwhelming" to see so many come out each week to show their support especially in her own neighbourhood.

"It is just amazing," she said, "You feel appreciated, you feel valued, you feel very much part of your community and that you are doing a good job.

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Applauding the people who saved his life. Belfast lawyer and Coronavirus survivor Niall Murphy applauds the NHS and frontline staff with his family Aoibhinn, Marie, Fionntan and Mcnas. Credit: Pacemaker

Applauding the people who saved his life. Belfast lawyer and Coronavirus survivor Niall Murphy applauds the NHS and frontline staff with his family Aoibhinn, Marie, Fionntan and Mcnas. Credit: Pacemaker

Applauding the people who saved his life. Belfast lawyer and Coronavirus survivor Niall Murphy applauds the NHS and frontline staff with his family Aoibhinn, Marie, Fionntan and Mcnas. Credit: Pacemaker

"It is lovely."

Caroline Fitzsimmons, deputy ward sister at the Downe Hospital said on the first week she felt embarrassed about the cheer as she was "only doing her job".

"Now I am very grateful to the public for their appreciation and for staying at home," she said.

Dr Cathal Foy has been a doctor for 30 years and said he had never known such support for the NHS.

"You give us the courage to do our jobs, thank you," the consultant geriatrician said.

Joanne Carson lead nurse at the Downe said it was a time to be proud of the contribution of her colleagues and friends.

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Fiona Crawford, Caroline Fitzsimmons, Cathal Foy, Joanne Carson, Martina Finn and Suzanne Madine.

Fiona Crawford, Caroline Fitzsimmons, Cathal Foy, Joanne Carson, Martina Finn and Suzanne Madine.

Fiona Crawford, Caroline Fitzsimmons, Cathal Foy, Joanne Carson, Martina Finn and Suzanne Madine.

"Not just in hospital but in primary care, care homes and wider emergency services," she said.

"I personally feel proud not only to be part of wider health service family but to be a nurse and to lead a team of exceptional nurses through this very exceptional time."

Lisa Ross a student nurse at the Downe said it was people staying at home had eased pressures on the health service.

Deputy ward sister Suzanne Madine said for her it was a recognition of staff who had cared for those that had lost their lives.

"We are all aware of how difficult it is for families and we just want to support them," she said.

Social workers Gail Howie and Hayley Jordan said the applause helped give them rmotivation and the positivity to do their work.

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Staff from Antrim Area Hospital take part in tonight's Clap for Carers in support of the NHS and key workers who are at the front line in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic in Northern Ireland. 
Photo Pacemaker Press

Staff from Antrim Area Hospital take part in tonight's Clap for Carers in support of the NHS and key workers who are at the front line in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic in Northern Ireland. Photo Pacemaker Press

Staff from Antrim Area Hospital take part in tonight's Clap for Carers in support of the NHS and key workers who are at the front line in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic in Northern Ireland. Photo Pacemaker Press

Gail said it was humbling to be supporting families and patients at this difficult time.

"Within the Mid Ulster Hospital we are so proud to be part of a great team... thank you all so much for your support" said Hayley.

Belfast Telegraph