The plane, which also had the words ‘Thank U NHS’ emblazoned under its wings, wowed crowds gathered outside the hospital and along Portsdown Hill at 3.05pm.
The owners of the plane – the Aircraft Restoration Company – has raised more than £20,000 for NHS Charities Together by getting people to donate and nominate family, friends, and community heroes who have helped others during the coronavirus outbreak.
A former nurse, who worked at Queen Alexandra Hospital for 42 years and who asked not to be named, said the flyby would make ‘a real difference’ to the morale of key workers across the NHS.
Watching from the park in Sevenoaks Road, she said: ‘It’s a lovely idea.
‘It’s been worth coming out to watch.’
Photographer Steve Guilfoyle, who regularly requires cancer treatment from the hospital, hopes to turn his photos of the flyby spectacle into greeting cards to be sold at the hospital shop later this year.
He said: ‘I already have a range of cards on sale there.
‘I have been in and out of the hospital for the last seven years since I was diagnosed with cancer – so I know how hard the NHS staff work.
‘The treatment I have had is outstanding.
‘I think gestures like this do mean something, but I hope moving forward, we can show our support through a pay rise for the staff.’
After receiving so many messages of support and nominations for people to be honoured on the aircraft, the the Aircraft Restoration Company has decided to leave the messages painted on the Spitfire for the rest of the flying season, according to a spokeswoman.
She said: ‘We have been blown away by the kind messages of support from the public which makes us feel humbled that we can be raising the spirits of so many whilst raising money for NHS Charities Together.’
The flight path lead the Spitfire to appear over hospitals from Brighton to Bournemouth this afternoon.