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Glentoran's thank-you to our frontline health staff is writ large

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Glentoran FC captain Marcus Kane applauds last night in front of a billboard erected by the east Belfast club in Dundonald

Glentoran FC captain Marcus Kane applauds last night in front of a billboard erected by the east Belfast club in Dundonald

PM Boris Johnson outside No. 10

PM Boris Johnson outside No. 10

AFP via Getty Images

Hospital staff and firefighters outside Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry

Hospital staff and firefighters outside Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry

PA

Residents from the Clonduff estate in east Belfast including Carol Meekin and Margaret Simpson

Residents from the Clonduff estate in east Belfast including Carol Meekin and Margaret Simpson

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

Staff at the Nightingale hospital in south Belfast

Staff at the Nightingale hospital in south Belfast

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Glentoran FC captain Marcus Kane applauds last night in front of a billboard erected by the east Belfast club in Dundonald

A Belfast Irish League football team pulled out all the stops to make last night's clap for carers extra special for our health service workers.

Glentoran FC officially unveiled a billboard close to the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald, bearing the image of midfielder Marcus Kane coming off the pitch while applauding, along with a heartfelt 'thank you' message to the health service.

It has appeared in the grounds of Ruby's bar and restaurant, which is shut due to the lockdown. Its owners kindly left the car park open so it could be used by hospital staff to park free of charge.

The billboard idea was the brainchild of Ronnie Hoy, a board member of the club's own community group, the Glentoran Community Trust.

Glentoran director John Moore said it was simply a gesture on behalf of the club to show the public's appreciation to our brave health staff on the frontline in the fight against Covid-19.

"We got the funding and a guy to design the poster and we were good to go," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"This billboard is just to show our appreciation. Everybody realises how much our health workers are putting themselves out, and putting themselves on the frontline."

He stressed the wealth of gratitude of the people of Northern Ireland for the sector was only deepening, as the clap for carers marked its sixth week.

"I've seen that for myself, on my own street. The first night of the applause, going out there was about half of the people. But it's grown."

John added: "The only people not clapping now outside their houses are the ones who probably are actually working in the health service themselves."

The football club also yesterday kindly donated 150 items of protective equipment to Palmerston Nursing Home, an assisted care facility in east Belfast where one resident celebrated his 100th birthday with the help of Glentoran.

Tom Ferrett has a strong and long association with the club, which started with his father George, who played for Glentoran back in the early 1900s. Yesterday, John visited Tom to mark the special occasion, which saw the veteran supporter receive a Glentoran birthday cake.

Nearby residents in east Belfast's Clonduff estate showed their gratitude to another centenarian, Captain Tom Moore - who became a national hero after raising £30m for the NHS - by putting up a mural painted in his honour.

Meanwhile, bus drivers and firemen across the country were also among those showing appreciation for NHS workers, while firefighters and paramedics gathered at Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry.

The Fire Service also arranged banners on a number of Co Antrim stations with the now familiar rainbow.

Translink positioned buses at a Londonderry depot in the shape of a heart, while City of Derry Airport's ground staff and emergency response members stopped to applaud healthcare workers.

Staff at Belfast International Airport gathered on the tarmac and flashed vehicle lights in support of carers following a visit by Economy Minister Diane Dodds, who thanked key workers.

The airport has been running at a loss to keep freight deliveries operating over recent weeks.

Belfast's City Hall, which is more than a century old, was lit up in blue to show appreciation for frontline workers.

Residential home carers in west Belfast received a round of applause from the public, as church bells rang out and car horns were sounded as families came to their front doors to clap and cheer on our health workers.

Over recent weeks, landmarks and public buildings have also lit up blue across the country.

Adding to the tributes, PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne said: "The best way you can support our brave NHS is by following the Northern Ireland Executive's regulations and stay at home and save lives."

Belfast Telegraph