Clap For Our Carers comes to Portsmouth Naval Base

Tonight at 8pm we’re hosting a BBC live broadcast from HMNB Portsmouth as part of their national Clap For Our Carers coverage.

As well as the sailors who live here, we’re also home to medics from all three services working within the local hospitals, and some of them will be joining the applause for their NHS colleagues.

Across the Armed Forces there are thousands of men and women already assisting the NHS, like the Joint Hospital Groups, or ready help the nation when they are called upon.

Many of our personnel in Portsmouth have close personal connections to NHS staff, and all feel great affinity to the medics and care staff who have been relied upon for even greater deeds during the epidemic. The Royal Navy and its units across the world have been enthusiastic participants in Clap For Our Carers over the last few weeks, and you might be able to hear the horns firing from some of our ships.

Leading Seaman Kris Chatfield will be among those showing his support at the base tonight. He has decided to restrict contact with his wife Claire who is a paediatric emergency department nurse at the Queen Alexandra Hospital and is living on board instead. Dad to two boys with Claire, he is the bosun on HMS Severn which has returned to sea recently as her crew prepare the patrol vessel for resumption of her patrol duties.

“Even though I live close to the base I’ve decided to stay on the ship all week to take away the risk of me bringing infection home and safeguard her and the vital work she does,” he said.

“It’s actually easier for me being back as sea because when we’re back in Portsmouth I’m so close to home that I can almost touch it but I can’t go there for now.

“The whole of the NHS and our other key workers have been fantastic, so it’s great to see everyone showing their appreciation across the board like this.”

Warrant Officer Jamie Palmer, also part of the HMS Severn crew, will be at home with his wife Aimee and their three sons. She is currently training in diagnostic imagery at Queen Alexandra and Gosport War Memorial hospitals, and a is veteran of HMS Kent herself, having spent five years in the Royal Navy.

Jamie said: “I have been away on the ship for the last three weeks but I know they have been overwhelmed by the support they have been shown. It’ll be great to here for this one, it’s very hard on the NHS staff doing their jobs during these hard times and I know Aimee is really touched by it.”

Neighbours on the estate they live on in Gosport have really got into showing their support too, bells, foghorns, drums and even an accordion on top of the applause.

Commander Alister Witt, Commanding Officer of Joint Hospital Group (South) said: “Our usual role in Portsmouth is preparing our medical personnel for deployments to the front line. At the moment the front line has come to us and we are proud to be supporting the NHS at QA Hospital, Portsmouth, which wouldn’t be possible without the support given to our people who reside here within HMNB Portsmouth.”