Did you see this ‘thank you’ Spitfire yesterday?

It flew over the John Radcliffe hospital with a thank you message for the county’s healthcare workers who’ve gone above and beyond throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

The Spitfire bears the names of thousands of healthcare heroes and performed flypasts of hospitals across the south of England on Saturday, from Dorset to Essex.

In total it toured 20 hospitals in the south.

Its owners are handwriting 80,000 names on the aircraft to help raise money for NHS Charities Together.

What started as a Thursday night tradition in Duxford, Cambridgeshire, has now so far raised more than £23,000.

Explaining why they took on the challenge, they wrote: “It began with an idea, “why don’t we fly our beloved blue Spitfire PL983 ‘L’ around the local villages for the #clapforourcarers this evening? … We can prepare the aeroplane as a household and it could really lift the community spirit”. Well, we did, and the response was utterly overwhelming. Being around the Spitfires so regularity can make it all too easy to take for granted just what the sight and sound of this machine means to so many people. We just weren’t prepared for the emotionally charged messages of support and gratitude that we received for that first flight, it was what paved the way for the development of the NHS Spitfire project.

“The Thursday flights soon became a bit of a tradition in our local area, and as we approached the tenth week we decided to add our own thank you message to the bottom of those iconic elliptical wings. That evening we set off again, this time with the ‘THANK U NHS’ emblazoned across the underside of the aircraft. “Saying and receiving a thank you is one of the simplest pleasures enjoyed by humankind, it takes the smallest of efforts but can carry vast meaning.

“So, how could we give people an opportunity to join us in saying thank you to the NHS whilst also giving them the opportunity to thank someone closer to home… well, this is what we’ve come up with…

“Over the course of the next few months we are going to be hand writing 80,000 names onto our photo-reconnaissance blue Spitfire PL983 ‘L’. “We need your help though, as the names we would like to add are those of your local heroes! A kind neighbour, family member on the front line, volunteer PPE producer, or anyone who has helped / inspired you through the Covid-19 pandemic. You can now say thank you to them by nominating their name for inclusion in the 80,000 names to go onto the NHS Spitfire.”

The Spitfire could be seen in the skies over Oxfordshire just after 4pm on Saturday. It was snapped by Camera Club’s Anthony Morris.

Residents are encouraged to nominate their healthcare heroes in return for a minimum £10 donation to NHS charities at justgiving.com/fundraising/nhsspitfire