This weekend we celebrate the anniversary of the birth of our National Health Service.
Over the last 72 years, the NHS has been there for everyone of us, soothing our pain; putting us back together after accidents and injuries; easing our troubled minds and providing support during our darkest times – and there have been none darker than the last few months.
On Sunday, (July 5) we will have the opportunity to reflect on the last few months of the pandemic and thank the tens of thousands of health and social care staff in Wales who have risked so much to keep us safe. We will clap once again, not just for the nurses and doctors but the care workers, the shop workers, the cleaners, delivery drivers, refuse collectors and so many more.
But this will also be also be a time to commemorate all those who sadly died from coronavirus and those who are mourning the loss of loved ones.
Despite the challenges of the past few months, I have been encouraged by the way our communities have come together to support critical workers and each other. I know everyone working in the NHS and in social care is grateful for this groundswell of support.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the huge number of retired health and care professionals who returned to work and the many healthcare students who joined the workforce.
I also want to thank everyone in Wales who has done so much to slow the spread of the virus by following the advice and the rules.
In the early weeks of the pandemic, we came together each week to thank critical workers and I am inviting you to do so once again on Sunday at 5pm to applaud the commitment, courage and sacrifice shown by so many.
Coronavirus has not gone away – the pandemic is not over. But the way everyone has responded with patience, good humour and a determination to do the right thing convinces me that together we will continue to keep Wales safe.