THINK back to the first lockdown last spring and Clap for Carers immediately springs to mind.

Neighbours lined streets all over Northwich to clap, cheer and bang pots and pans as a thank you to NHS staff and care workers tackling coronavirus in the first wave.

The weekly clap ended after 10 weeks last May – but it was revived last night, January 7, as the Clap for Heroes.

The idea was to return to doorsteps across the nation to thank all key workers for their tireless efforts in the pandemic, as we now begin the third English lockdown.

But 8pm passed without notice for most people – not just in Northwich, but around the country.

In a poll on the Guardian website run earlier this week asking readers if they would take part in Clap for Heroes, just 17 per cent said they would, while eight per cent said they would wait to see what their neighbours were doing first.

That left three-quarters of respondents already certain that they would not be taking part.

And when asked on Facebook this morning whether any streets across Northwich did Clap for Heroes last night, many Guardian readers dismissed it.

Emma Herbert accepted the event can be ‘good for morale’ but said she chose not to take part ‘to respect the wishes of doctors and nurses who have expressed strong feelings against it’ and instead ‘would prefer a pay rise’.

Marc Wilcox added: “Clapping won't pay their bills. I'd rather the Government acknowledged how valuable our key workers are by rewarding them with a proper pay rise.”

Northwich Guardian: NHS staff joined in last year's Clap for Carers, but many said they would prefer a pay rise this time round. Image: Joe Giddens/PA WireNHS staff joined in last year's Clap for Carers, but many said they would prefer a pay rise this time round. Image: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Jai Hughes agreed that the clapping is an ‘absolutely hollow gesture’ and echoed calls for a pay rise to key workers, while Deborah Matura insisted the clap ‘falls on deaf ears anyway’.

She added: “If anything we should be banging pans at those who don't give a hoot anymore and are continually breaking the rules and carrying on as normal with blatant disregard for the NHS and all the key workers tirelessly fighting this virus every day.”

However, there were some Northwich residents who did take part in the clap.

Sandra Lloyd said: “We did but couldn’t see anyone else out in our road, to be honest like many have said what our heroes need is for everyone to follow the guidance. And it was freezing.”

And some key workers commented to give their thoughts, standing against the clap.

Maxine Parkes said: “No, I work for the NHS. And all I and my colleagues want is people to do as is asked of them, to get out of this mess.”

“I cringe at being called a hero,” added Angie Walters.

Annemarie Plas, who founded Clap for Carers last year, had encouraged people to get back on their doorsteps earlier this week when the new lockdown began.

But she issued a statement on Thursday distancing herself from the event, having received abuse on social media following her decision.

She said: “The idea of bringing back the applause was only to bring some optimism and positivity to the country, not to make a political comment about the state of the nation.

“Since announcing the return of the applause yesterday, I have been targeted with personal abuse and threats against myself and my family by a hateful few on social media channels.

“Irrespective of their views and reasons for believing this is an acceptable way to behave, I did not set out to make a political statement and will not put my loved ones at risk.

“As a consequence I have opted to distance myself from [Thursday’s] planned applause and will no longer seek to raise further awareness of it.”

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