Special spitfire flypast held to mark NHS anniversary

  • Watch highlights of the spitfire tribute flight over the Anglia region

A World War Two spitfire has performed a special flypast to mark the 72nd birthday of the NHS.

The plane set off from IWM Duxford at 4.20pm and then flew over a number of hospitals in the East of England - including the Luton & Dunstable Hospital, Stevenage's Lister Hospital and Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

Staff at the hospitals watched and applauded as the fighter aircraft, which had the words 'Thank U NHS' written on its underside, soared over their heads.

The spitfire takes off from Duxford. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Villagers in Witchford near Ely also got a glimpse of the plane before it finished its tour over Papworth Hospital and headed back to Duxford.

Just moments before the plane flew over Papworth, staff there had just taken part in a nationwide clap for carers to pay tribute to NHS staff.

The flypast was organised by the family-owned Aircraft Restoration Company who are based at Duxford.

Speaking to ITV News Anglia ahead of the flight, pilot John Romain said they wanted to do something special to show their appreciation.

  • Watch an interview with pilot John Romain

"Really, this came about through doing other flights leading through the pandemic and the reaction we've had from the general public was astounding," he said.

"That gave us the idea of enhancing those trips. It's very special because it's a completely different audience. We normally do airshows at various locations, but they are airshow audiences. This is the general public and a different thing so it's a special day."

Elsewhere, landmarks across the East were lit up in blue to celebrate the anniversary and also to remember those who have died during the pandemic.

The pavilion at the home of Essex County Cricket Club in Chelmsford was illuminated blue, as was Norwich City Hall.

The bells at Norwich Cathedral were also rang 72 times on Sunday afternoon, and children used coloured chalk to transform the steps in Maldon's Promenade Park into a giant rainbow.

The NHS has served this country over the last 72 years so amazingly.

Canon Andrew Bryant.

"We wanted, as Norwich Cathedral, to join in with the national celebrations and if any of us were ever in any doubt about the role of the NHS in our society, through this pandemic they have just been so utterly fabulous and we just wanted to join in with everyone else and express our thanks to them," Canon Andrew Bryant said.

"We have our Covid 19 memorial which remembers each of those across the county who have died from Covid 19. At the moment we have 4181 crosses lying on the floor remembering each of those who have died with this terrible disease."