NHS staff thank Watford FC with 'clap for the club'
NHS staff gathered in Watford FC's stadium to applaud a Premier League club for its help during the coronavirus pandemic.
West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust hosted "Clap for the Club" at Vicarage Road on Friday to thank the Hornets for their "kindness and generosity".
The club has provided more than 40,000 free meals plus bedrooms and meeting rooms for NHS staff and washed scrubs.
The trust has thanked them for helping staff "relax and recuperate".
Watford FC opened its doors on 17 April to all trust staff, many of whom are based at neighbouring Watford General Hospital.
The hospital had asked to use the club's meeting rooms to plan its Covid-19 response but it soon became a full-blown wellbeing facility, dubbed Team West Herts Sanctuary.
As well as breakfast and lunch, overnight accommodation, seating areas, counselling rooms and spaces to be alone were provided.
Trust chief executive, Christine Allen, said it was "hard to put into words the difference this has made to our staff".
"The fact that the club made it happen when we needed it most is a testament to them," she said.
"As we enter our recovery phase, we need to find a "new normal" and let the club get back to its business."
Any staff who were able to, headed to the Rookery stand on Friday afternoon.
"We want to say thank you to our lovely neighbours and all the WFC staff who volunteered their time to look after our staff and help them relax and recuperate," the trust said.
From Friday, the club's hot food service will end but the doors will remain open for NHS staff for the next few months.
The maternity service will also continue to run newborn hearing screening and antenatal clinics at the club until the end of August.
Watford's chief executive Scott Duxbury said it had been a "privilege to support the hospital" but it now had focus on the return of Premier League games.
"[Our staff's] compassion and desire to help was humbling and shows that the true values of this club are very much alive," he said.
"The hospital know they can rely on us. We are there for them in the same way that they are there for all of us."