Bear Grylls, Ainsley Harriott and Michael Sheen joined by Crawley father and son volunteering duo in backing campaign to say ‘Thank You’ across the UK

A Crawley father and son duo are among tens of thousands of people who have signed up to call for a national ‘Thank You’ day on July 4.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 7:00 am

With communities in the UK looking forward to enjoying greater freedom to meet and socialise this summer, a campaign to say ‘thank you’ to those in our local communities who helped us though the crisis has received a groundswell of support, especially in Crawley.

The campaign is calling on people to mark the day by getting together with their neighbours, friends and family and joining in a huge nationwide thank-you.

The Thank You day campaign is being led in Crawley by Sonny Purba, who is part of a team of Royal Voluntary Service volunteers in West Sussex that support socially isolated people and has been calling in to chat and providing practical help.

The Thank You day campaign is being led in Crawley by Sonny Purba. Picture courtesy of Dan Mobbs

Sonny has been joined in his work as a volunteer by his A-Level student son, Sameer, and he would like to thank teachers for keeping education on track over the past year thanks to a huge effort on their part.

Sonny said: “We all want to say thank you to someone. For me, it’s primarily the teachers, my wife being one of them.

"I’d like to say thank you for keeping the education system going while schools were closed with online classes.

"The countless school hours they’ve put in so we can carry on with some sort of education online is fantastic.

“I’ve been making telephone calls for the past year for Royal Voluntary Service and hoping that the temperature picks up so I can sit in the garden with people.

"I’ve been keeping in touch over the phone and enjoying some interesting conversations. There’s over 100 of us registered as volunteers in Crawley.

“My son’s also part of the voluntary team. He’s an A-Level student. He’s starting as a medical student in September and saw me doing my voluntary work and asked to join.

"He was 17 at the time and he’s been doing the same sort of work as me for the past six months and it’s really developed him personally.

"It’s brought him out of his shell and he’s supporting an elderly gentleman, who’s four times his age.”

The idea has been proposed by a small group of people from across the UK including May Parsons, the nurse who delivered the UK’s first Covid vaccination jab in Coventry in December.

May said: “Thank You Day gives me the opportunity to thank all my amazing colleagues working in the NHS and social care.

"This has been the toughest year of our professional careers, and you have all worked so hard to treat all the sick patients who came through our doors, while delivering the biggest and most successful vaccination programme in NHS history.

“I want to thank the incredible volunteers who gave up their time to support us and those in their communities who needed help.

"I am so grateful for all the people who kept us going: the school teams who looked after our children, shop staff, transport and delivery workers. We couldn’t have done it without you.

"I am incredibly proud of our staff and our volunteers, and I want to encourage everyone to take part in Thank You Day in any way that you can.”

The invitation from May and others has now been backed by household names including the Archbishop of Canterbury, actor Michael Sheen, astronaut Tim Peake, Paralympian Ellie Simmonds, adventurer Bear Grylls and chef and Big Lunch ambassador Ainsley Harriott.

And the call has the backing of dozens of national organisations including the Scouts, Girlguiding, Royal Voluntary Service, the FA and the Together Coalition.

The NHS will be joining in on July 4 too, following the huge public support for the Health Service on its 72nd anniversary over the same weekend last year.

In a video released for the launch of the campaign, celebrities have been saying who they want to thank.

Bear Grylls, Chief Scout, said: “The last year has been challenging for all of us. But we’ve got through it by pulling together and by helping each other.

"In fact I believe this crisis has shown us that our communities are much stronger than people think.

"So one of the few good things to come out of all of this is we each have lots of people to say thank you to. I’ll be saying a huge thank you to my family and to our incredible scout volunteers.

People and organisations across the UK have been coming up with their own ideas for how to make ‘Thank You Day’ special.

Plans already in place include getting together with neighbours for a street party or picnic over a ‘Big Lunch', special Park Runs and raising a glass or a cuppa to say ‘Cheers for Volunteers’ at 5pm

A spokesperson for the Together coalition said: “A national Thank You Day gives us all a chance to mark the end of this phase of the crisis and say thank you to everyone who helped us through. So many of us want that chance.

"But it also gives us an opportunity to look forward, to help remind us what matters and how we want to stay connected to each other in the future.”