A Christian man who stood outside Basildon Hospital every day for 40 days, clapping and praying for NHS staff, has been thanked by a crowd of hundreds clapping in return.
Colin Wilkinson said weeks ago he got a vison from God to make a rainbow banner for the hospital and then to also pray for staff and patients every day.
He told Premier he was obedient to God and it has been a blessing to not only him, but the people he was praying for.
"People were coming up to me before the start of the shift or at the end of the night shift and just saying 'thank you for being there because there were mornings where I came into work and I could have easily turned back because of the pandemic and I saw you clapping me and you gave me the strength to go to work'.
"It's amazing. You never know how a simple thing can get a response that's going to impact people."
On his last day of clapping, a representative from Basildon Hospital told Wilkinson they wanted to thank him for his show of support with some coffee and cake.
However, when he arrived outside the hospital he said there were almost 1,000 people clapping for him.
"It was just surreal. I felt like I was on a film set. It wasn't reality. There must have been around about 1,000 people there. It was just crazy and I had no idea at all.
"I've made some beautiful friendships at the hospital through people coming to see me and thank you letters and cards I've received with real personal stuff on there has brought me to tears a few times."
At a presentation on 3rd June, Mayor David Burton-Sampson presented Wilkinson with a gift to acknowledge his continual support at the rainbow banner, which he helped put up to support NHS staff.
Dani Mayo, lead chaplain at Basildon Hospital, thanked Wilkinson on behalf of staff and led a prayer for him.
She presented him with a card from the hospital and with staff in attendance they returned the inspiration and clapped for Wilkinson thanking him for his daily support through the coronavirus pandemic.
Mayo said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by Colin’s dedication and commitment these last 40 days. He’s been welcoming and clapping our staff day in and day out.
“We’ll all hold Colin in our hearts in these days to come, as he’s been a light in the darkest of moments. We’re really grateful for how he has supported us here at Basildon.”
Basildon Mayor, David Burton-Sampson said: “The coronavirus pandemic has taken a huge toll on Basildon, the UK, and around the world – and seeing the action of one man, supporting hospital and NHS staff, patients and visitors every day is a tribute to what it takes for us all to get through this crisis.
“Without the support of others we are nothing – and this has not been clearer in recent memory for us all than in these past weeks and months. On behalf of Basildon, thank you Mr Wilkinson for being a beacon of hope and support every day through May – today we’re clapping for you.”
Wilkinson was also presented with a wooden cross with a blue ribbon with 'Thank you' carved into it.
Listen to the full interview with Colin Wilkinson here: