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Royal Opera House thanks NHS heroes

The Royal Opera House has celebrated the success of its #ThankYouNHS scheme, which it began in June 2021. The scheme involved a suite of activities, partnerships and heavily discounted performances for NHS workers, designed to thank them for their extraordinary work over the pandemic and beyond.  

The programme began with Puccini’s La bohème in June 2021, sung to an auditorium of staff from ROH’s nearest hospitals: Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, and University College Hospital London. Over the next year, NHS workers were invited to special Family Sunday events, the 2021 Paul Hamlyn Christmas Treat and a number of dedicated performances in Covent Garden.

In a first for the ROH, the Royal Opera Chorus also partnered with more than 30 hospital radio stations across the country, from Cornwall to the Isle of Man, to share highlights from the opera repertory with thousands of patients, doctors and hospital workers. An hour of specially recorded songs – including the famous ‘Habanera’ from Bizet’s Carmen, and extracts from Mozart’s La clemenza de Tito, Così fan tutte, and Verdi’s Rigoletto – was broadcast in May 2021.

The programme culminated on Saturday 17 December 2022 with this year’s Paul Hamlyn Christmas Treat – a day of pop-up events and activities generously supported by The Helen Hamlyn Trust, in memory of the late Paul Hamlyn, designed specifically to introduce new audiences to the Royal Opera House. This year’s celebration included Ballet Barre workshops, demonstrations by members of The Royal Ballet School, storytelling activities, and Q&A sessions with dancers from The Royal Ballet. The full day of entertainment finished with The Nutcracker, performed that afternoon by a stellar cast of dancers. It was offered to nurses through Nurses’ Trusts, with tickets costing as little as £1.

Jackie Hanson, Regional Chief Nurse, NHS North West, said:

‘It was a privilege to have been invited and able to attend the event, and see the wonderful performance of The Nutcracker, which was dedicated to nurses across the country. My heartfelt thanks go to Lady Helen Hamlyn and the staff at the Royal Opera House for a beautifully organised day which paid tribute to nurses across the 7 regions. Those nursing staff and their families attending were visibly thrilled and thankful for the opportunity, as well as honoured to represent fellow nursing staff. The excitement and then impact within the venue was palpable. A truly memorable event.’

Jillian Barker, Director of Learning and Participation at the Royal Opera House, said:

‘The Royal Opera House is thrilled to have established strong relationships with the office of the Chief Nursing Officer and with 10 NHS Trusts. These partnerships have paved the way for us to welcome thousands of nurses and NHS workers to the Royal Opera House. It was exciting and very moving to see a full auditorium of nurses being applauded by our dancers and orchestra at Nutcracker for Nurses and their standing ovation demonstrated the impact a great ballet can have.’