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Annemarie Plas – the yoga-loving mother whose Thursday ritual has united the UK

Mrs Plas, 36, originally from the Netherlands, was inspired to launch ClapForOurCarers after seeing similar events in her homeland.

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Staff from the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London join the salute to local heroes during Thursday’s nationwide Clap for Carers NHS initiative to applaud NHS workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic (PA)

Staff from the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London join the salute to local heroes during Thursday’s nationwide Clap for Carers NHS initiative to applaud NHS workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic (PA)

Staff from the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London join the salute to local heroes during Thursday’s nationwide Clap for Carers NHS initiative to applaud NHS workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic (PA)

A Dutch national living in south London, whose “spontaneous idea” has united a nation, says the weekly 8pm Clap For Our Carers shows the British public have “passion and spirit”.

Annemarie Plas, a 36-year-old mother-of-one, originally thought her show of support for frontline workers battling Covid-19 might end up being just her and a few friends sharing a moment on Facetime.

But now, at 8pm on every Thursday since the UK was plunged into lockdown, people have flung open their windows and doors, or have stood in their gardens or – socially distanced – on street corners to show their appreciation for nurses, carers and others battling the coronavirus on the front line.

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Annemarie Plas, 36, from Amsterdam and living in South London, who introduced the #ClapForOurCarers initiative to the UK (ClapForOurCarers handout/PA)

Annemarie Plas, 36, from Amsterdam and living in South London, who introduced the #ClapForOurCarers initiative to the UK (ClapForOurCarers handout/PA)

Annemarie Plas, 36, from Amsterdam and living in South London, who introduced the #ClapForOurCarers initiative to the UK (ClapForOurCarers handout/PA)

The #ClapForOurCarers idea even has its own website.

“It got really big, eh?” said Mrs Plas, a yoga teacher originally from Amsterdam, who is married to a British man.

She told the PA news agency: “I was inspired by what was happening in my own country and I thought it would be good to have it here too.

“I discussed the idea with my friends and they said it would just be me and them doing it.

“If that had been the case, that would have been fine.

“But I said I wanted it to reach as many people as people.

“So I posted it on social media and in WhatsApp, sending it to my contacts here in the UK, and within 24 hours some of the major celebs had it on their page – Sussex Royal and Victoria Beckham.

“Am I surprised? Yes. But you can never say British people don’t have passion and spirit.”

Mrs Plas said her friends working in hospitals felt particularly moved by the weekly show of support.

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Construction workers clapping outside the Nightingale Hospital at the Harrogate Convention Centre (Danny Lawson/PA)

Construction workers clapping outside the Nightingale Hospital at the Harrogate Convention Centre (Danny Lawson/PA)

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Construction workers clapping outside the Nightingale Hospital at the Harrogate Convention Centre (Danny Lawson/PA)

“Everybody has adopted it,” she said. “We mutually own it.

“We feel powerless at the moment –  for me I have to battle some challenges being in the house the whole time.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re royal or a normal person, we all still have to go through this.

“So it is good we can do something together.”

PA