Why we want to say a #BigThankYou - and how you can too

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Two words have never been more important. Thank You.

It is a small gesture that we must never take for granted - and often it is the hardest phrase to say.

As a nation we have faced one of the biggest challenges to test our resolve and resilience in the face of a silent killer we have never battled before.

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Since March 23 - and even longer for some of our most vulnerable - we have been parted from our loved ones, shielded the defenceless and formed a protective ring around the National Health Service so that it can help those who need it the most.

It has come at a cost and there has been a tragic price to pay as coronavirus sweeps the country.

Sadly thousands of loved ones have succumbed to the virus, leaving many families struggling to compound their loss as they grieve alone.

It has been incredibly tough - we are living in extraordinary times.

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Yet it is during times of great crisis that human compassion truly comes to the fore.

At the outbreak of World War Two the Royal Voluntary Service was founded as a million women came forward to support those in need.

And that spirit of kindness, compassion and selflessness has reigned true today.

A single action from another can make such a tremendous difference.

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For those making the ultimate sacrifice on the frontline in our hospitals their decisions - under a pressure they have never faced before - truly mean the difference between life and death.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people across the country answered the call to join the nation’s volunteer army to support the National Health Service and become a lifeline to those who were unable to leave their homes.

For others it can be a simple remarkable act of kindness that has resonated with them: be it a trip to the shop, a friendly wave to a vulnerable neighbour or a rainbow in a window.

And we have been with you every single step of the way, sharing those stories of resilience and brilliance in our communities.

We are surrounded by a nation of unsung heroes.

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And today we want to help recognise those efforts of those who have made such a difference to the lives of others.

Quite simply, we want to say a Big Thank You to the army of volunteers, medics and other key workers across our towns and cities for their extraordinary selfless service.

But we need your help to do this.

Over the coming weeks we are asking you, our readers, to share your pictures and messages to those who have made such a difference to your lives during lockdown.

We want to collectively say a Big Thank You to those extraordinary people who have gone above and beyond to support you during this difficult time.

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Jeremy Clifford, editor-in- chief, said: “Over the past 12 weeks we have seen the heroic efforts of so many key workers helping to keep us safe and healthy.

“There have been so many examples and stories about people's acts of kindness and the personal risks to their own safety to help others.

“Our Big Thank You is our opportunity to give you the chance to say thanks. It can be a thank you to friends, loved ones, neighbours or employees who have done so much through this pandemic - acknowledging that their work is still ongoing.”

To send your message or picture, simply look up this title on social media. You can also upload your #BigThankYou to our Health Heroes Facebook group.