Health and social care workers honoured with Freedom of Belfast for role during pandemic

Frontline workers have been granted the Freedom of Belfast for their work during the coronavirus pandemic.

Healthcare and social care staff, as well as those from key public and frontline services, and the community and voluntary sector were represented at a gathering at the Waterfront Hall where the honour was bestowed by Lord Mayor Tina Black.

ICU nurse Lyndsey Adamson, who served as lead nurse for the former Nightingale Hospital, received the Freedom of the City on behalf of all those attending.

The event also featured a specially designed artwork consisting of two hands touching, representing the crucial role of hands during the pandemic – to heal, comfort and help.

Belfast City Council voted to award the honour in May 2020.

On Thursday evening, more than 1,800 key workers attended The Belfast Mixtape – Songs from Lockdown event (pictured), which included personal reflections and unique musical performances, recognising the contribution of all those who worked tirelessly to support vulnerable citizens.

It featured performances by Ryan McMullan, Foy Vance, Brooke Scullion, Saint Sister, the Open Arts Community Choir, the Belfast Trust Here4U staff choir and the Ulster Orchestra.

Ms Black described a “unique Freedom of the City, which looks back at efforts of those workers who put their own concerns to one side to help care for others during very difficult days for our city”.

She added: “It’s a chance for all of us to say thanks to those staff for their selfless courage and compassion, a message which will be especially poignant for those personally impacted by loss during the pandemic, and those whose lives have been changed.”

To date, 57 men, 17 women and 10 organisations have received the Freedom of the City of Belfast.

Previous recipients have included Michael Longley, Dame Mary Peters, Bill Clinton, George Mitchell and Sir Kenneth Branagh.

The event was recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Radio Foyle and BBC Sounds on Friday from 7.30pm to 9.30pm.

It will also be televised on BBC NI and BBC iPlayer later this autumn.

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