COVID-19: candlelight vigil at Downing Street for healthcare staff who have died

Mental health nurse held vigil in place of the Thursday night clap for carers that has taken place during the pandemic

Jessica Luby, Rachel Luby (centre), and her seven-year-old nephew Ellis Luby outside Downing Street
Picture: Kirsty O'Connor

A candlelight vigil has been held to honour the nursing and healthcare staff who have lost their lives as a result of COVID-19.

Organised by mental health nurse Rachel Luby, the vigil was held outside Downing Street at 8pm on 11 June, the same time the clap for carers event had previously taken place every Thursday. 

‘Shared grief’ as 245 healthcare workers commemorated 

Ms Luby told Nursing Standard she decided to hold the vigil because she thinks of those who have died during the pandemic every Thursday.

‘It’s a shared grief. Even if you have not been directly impacted, you know someone who has,’ she said.

Ms Luby and her sister, third-year general nursing student Jessica Luby, wrote the names of 245 health workers who have died on candles, which were then placed outside the gates leading to number 10.

‘The candles represented the light that they would have brought into other people’s lives,’ she said.

‘If they each had positive contact with 1,000 people, that’s nearly 250,000 people who are walking around today who were helped by these healthcare workers.’

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You’ll Never Walk Alone and gospel music played at 8pm

When the clock struck 8pm, Captain Tom Moore, Michael Ball and the NHS’s Voices of Care Choir’s rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone was played, followed by a gospel version of This Little Light of Mine – an acknowledgment to the Black Lives Matter movement, Ms Luby said.

After the vigil, the candles were placed outside St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

‘There were so many staff coming in and out. Everyone was stopping and smiling,’ Ms Luby said.

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