Dr Andy Davies is head of Warrington's Clinical Commissioning Group which runs health services in the town.

He explains why it is more important than ever to clap for the NHS this weekend

On Sunday, July 5, it will be 72 years since the NHS began.

It was launched by Aneurin Bevan less than 20 miles from Warrington at Park Hospital, which is now known as Trafford General Hospital.

Throughout its history, it has faced many challenges, but never more than in the last year.

Our local NHS staff in our hospitals, GP practices and other NHS settings are continuing to deal with the many challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and they will do so for the foreseeable future.

I want to take this opportunity to thank every single one of them, both on the frontline and behind the scenes, for their amazing efforts during this pandemic.

Everyone in our NHS family in Warrington has shown tremendous dedication and resilience in adapting to the difficult circumstances they have faced.

They truly are NHS heroes.

I also want to acknowledge the remarkable work of our colleagues in the care sector who we have worked closely with.

They have gone above and beyond to care for our most vulnerable residents.

This year, as we remember those that we have lost, the way the NHS marks its anniversary will have a different feel to years gone by.

On Saturday, July 4, (the eve of the NHS Birthday), national landmarks will be lit up in blue as part of our collective memorial across the country.

You can join in by placing a light in your window – an LED candle, a lamp or a torch.

Every week of the pandemic, we have seen the communities we are here to serve show their love and appreciation for the NHS and carers.

And so many have done their bit during the difficult weeks of lockdown.

So, we want to use our 72nd anniversary as an opportunity to say thank you back.

At 5pm on Sunday, July 5, please join us in a one-off clap – the loudest ever – to say thank you to everyone who has helped the NHS through the crisis so far.

Afterwards, why not raise a glass, mug or cuppa to your friends, families, colleagues, neighbours and anyone who has helped you during the last few months.

Finally, on behalf of NHS Warrington Clinical Commissioning Group, I want to say a special thank you to everyone who has supported the NHS during this difficult time.

We want to thank our local charities, community groups, volunteers and key workers – the kindness and generosity you have shown to Warrington residents has helped us through very difficult times.