Coronavirus ‘heroes’ switch on Blackpool Illuminations

Leona Harris and Will RitchieImage copyright
Visit Blackpool

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Nurse Leona Harris and Will Ritchie have raised thousands of pounds to help patients during the coronavirus crisis

“Corona heroes” – including a nurse and six-year-old boy who raised thousands of pounds for patients – will switch on this year’s Blackpool Illuminations.

They will pull the switch in a virtual ceremony in Blackpool Tower ballroom on 4 September designed to celebrate those who have shone during the pandemic.

Lights ambassador Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen said they were “truly humbling”.

Thousands usually attend the event at the Tower Festival Headland but it will be a “closed set” due to the lockdown.

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Sean Conboy/Visit Blackpool

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The lights will shine for an extra two months this season

Creative curator of the Illuminations and TV presenter Llewelyn-Bowen helped select the winners from hundreds of nominations from the public.

Leona Harris, a nurse from Rossendale, Lancashire, who raised £30,000 in a week to buy tablets for patients unable to have visitors in hospitals, care homes, and hospices so they could speak to loved ones.

Another “hero” picked was six-year-old Will Ritchie who raised more than £12,000 for Wirral University Teaching Hospital Foundation Trust Covid-19 Support Fund.

He has a severe visual impairment and epilepsy and completed Will’s Marathon Month in June to help the hospital – which has treated him – during the pandemic.

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Visit Blackpool

Image caption

David Anderson and his therapy dog Jasper were also named “corona heroes”

The other winners were :

  • Dr Jason Cupitt who has led the Covid-19 response at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
  • Nurses Rachelle Sutton for her work at Nightingale Hospital in Manchester and Kirsty Jones from Blackpool’s Trinity Hospice.
  • East Lancashire’s NHS Hospitals’ chaplain David Anderson and his cockapoo Jasper, the therapy dog.
  • Donna Doyle, restaurant manager at Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, who helped provide free food for patients, families, volunteers and staff during the height of the crisis.

Llewelyn-Bowen said: “Every nomination has illustrated the dedication and self-sacrifice that has been made by so many during this pandemic… who have put their own lives on hold to support the sick and the vulnerable.”

The lights will shine an extra two months this season until 3 January.

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