Matt Hancock has paid tribute to our readers in a personal video after their efforts helped raise more than £500,000 for the NHS during the Covid-19 crisis.

In March, we launched our Support Our NHS Guardian Angels campaign in response to the biggest threat facing our nation since the Second World War.

With the country in lockdown and the urgent need for medical supplies, our paper asked you to dig deep to support our heroes on the frontline. 

And you did not let us down. Over the course of the past four months, with generosity that has been both exemplary and moving, readers in their thousands have donated to our appeals.

Now we can share the news that across Newsquest’s network of 160 local papers, our readers have raised more than £503,990 for hospital charities trusts, up and down the country.

Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, has issued a special message of thanks to our readers for their gargantuan efforts.

Basingstoke Gazette:

Speaking to this newspaper, he said: “I am incredibly grateful to all the readers of Newsquest for their generosity toward the Support Our NHS Guardian Angels during the colossal national effort to tackle coronavirus.

“For nearly 72 years, the NHS has always been there for us, and this global pandemic has been its toughest challenge yet. Across the whole country, the bonds between our heroic NHS staff and local communities have been further strengthened by the support of your readers.”

As the nation takes small steps into the unlocking period and hopefully towards a new normal, we wanted to take the time to say thank you to our compassionate readers who have supported our NHS through this pandemic. In years to come, the difference you have made will not be forgotten.

As part of the campaign, the Southampton Daily Echo has helped raise more than £177,000 for Southampton Hospital Charity, a pioneering centre that has been leading the way for coronavirus research during the pandemic.

Readers of The Wirral Globe have helped raise £61,207 for Wirral University Teaching Hospital’s Covid-19 support appeal.

The team at The South Wales Argus helped raise £45,095 for St David’s Hospice Care. The hospice was facing an uncertain future in April as a lack of donations saw its loss of income plummet.

The team at The Gazette in Essex have raised more than £3,000 to buy Personal Protective Equipment for medics on the frontline while an anonymous business donated an additional £7,000 to the cause, taking the total up to £10,000.

Meanwhile, The Impartial Reporter in Northern Ireland collected £10,387 for their Help Our Health Heroes campaign in conjunction with The Fermanagh Trust.

Basingstoke Gazette: Newspapers across our group got behind the appeal Newspapers across our group got behind the appeal

Centres got inventive with their campaign techniques. The creative team at The Hereford Times, one of Newsquest’s flagship weekly titles, held a virtual fundraising gig over Facebook Live in honour of the group’s nationwide campaign.

Katie French, who co-ordinated the fundraising efforts, said: “This appeal has been a huge success and we are thankful to everyone who has donated for these incredibly worthy causes.

“Local newspapers do so much more than delivering news for the communities they serve and this is a text-book example of regional news teams going above and beyond, at a time of crisis.

“The generosity of our readers up and down the country has been second to none.” 

Gordon Sutter, editor of The Southampton Daily Echo, said: “From the start of the coronavirus outbreak the Southern Daily Echo recognised the role that staff at Southampton University Hospitals Trust would play in dealing with the pandemic and the immense pressure they would be under.

“Therefore, as part of the local community we felt we had play our part to do as much as we could to support those dealing with the pandemic in the city’s hospital.

“As a result we threw our weight behind the appeal by the Southampton Hospitals Charity and are so proud to have helped them raise such a huge amount of money.

“It just shows how much the people of Southampton care about our local NHS staff and the unbelievable work they have done over the past three months."