The Duke of Cambridge spoke at Friday’s 999 Festival, an online service of thanksgiving to honour emergency service personnel, where he praised the work of first responders in the midst of a global pandemic.
Speaking from Anmer Hall, the Cambridges’ country home in Norfolk, William said, “This year, more than ever, we have been repeatedly reminded of the sacrifices made by all those in the emergency responder community, as they worked tirelessly to protect us against Covid-19 and keep the country going in the most challenging circumstances.”
The 999 Festival is held annually on the Friday closest to 9 September (999 Day), and was supposed to take place in Belfast Cathedral. Due to the pandemic, it was switched to an online event.
Other speakers at the 999 Festival included the First Ministers of Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. A choir also performed, and a wreath was laid in remembrance of those who have lost their lives in the line of emergency duty.
William’s message continued: “Having had the privilege of working alongside emergency responders, I’ve always been struck by the remarkable can-do attitude, in the face of even the gravest of emergencies. They showcase the very best that our country has to offer, and this is never more apparent than at times like these.
“Tragically, some will pay the ultimate price as a result of their efforts in the line of duty, while others will experience lasting effects on their physical health or mental well-being.
“We all have a responsibility to do what we can to support this community and to remember their efforts to keep us safe, as well as the many sacrifices made by both them and their families, which is why today’s service is so important.
“On behalf of my family, I want to thank you all. Your hard work, your determination and your courage are tremendous source of pride for your country and we will be forever grateful for all that you do.”
The Founder and CEO of the 999 Festival, Tom Scholes-Fogg, said in a statement on the charity’s website, “Given events in our country and across the globe, we simply could not let this year go by without honouring our 999 heroes.
“We are incredibly honoured that HRH The Duke of Cambridge, the First Ministers and Health Secretary agreed to participate in this special online programme… The emergency services is about partnership, and events such as the 999 Festival where the NHS and emergency services are together as equal partners is important.”