Clap for Heroes has less enthusiastic comeback as founder sits it out

The return of weekly clapping for the ‘heroes’ of the pandemic appeared much more subdued this evening.

Annemarie Plas, 36, who came up with the weekly ritual that ran for 10 weeks during the first lockdown, did not participate in today’s comeback.

The Dutch national from South London decided to distance herself from the relaunch after being targeted on social media with ‘hateful’ abuse.

Ms Plas says she just wanted the nation to show its support for key workers putting their necks on the line during the pandemic, but the initiative unintentionally became the centre of a political row over funding for the NHS.

Social media and streets up and down the UK were noticeably less noisy, despite the efforts of some who braved the chilly evening weather to bang pots and clap their hands.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer did take part but his message afterwards hinted at why the clapping event, previously known as Clap for Carers, may not have been as popular this time around.

He tweeted: ‘Once again we took to our doorsteps to #ClapForOurCarers. But clapping isn’t enough. They need to be paid properly and given the respect they deserve.

‘The vaccine brings us hope, and we thank the NHS workers, army, volunteers and all those supporting the roll out.’

Video footage showed that the revival was successful in some areas however. Locals clapped from flats opposite St Thomas’ Hospital in central London in a gesture of thanks to NHS staff dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

But social media users took to Twitter to explain why they had not taken part in the Clap for Heroes event.

One wrote: ‘I did clap for all the brilliant people in the front line the last time round, but feel this time they’d appreciate us staying at home! And a pay rise!

Another posted: ‘I’m not clapping tonight, instead I’m going to email my MP @GarySambrook89 and let him know our £clapforheroes people need tangible support in the form of pay rises, PPE and vaccines.’

Event founder Ms Plas said that she had opted to distance herself from the planned applause and ‘will no longer seek to raise further awareness of it’.

In a statement, released on the Clap for Heroes Twitter page, the mother-of-one said: ‘Since announcing the return of the applause yesterday, I have been targeted with personal abuse and threats against myself and my family by a hateful few on social media channels.

‘Irrespective of their views and reasons for believing this is an acceptable way to behave, I did not set out to make a political statement and will not put my loved ones at risk.

‘I have no political agenda, I am not employed by the Government, I do not work in PR, I am just an average mum at home trying to cope with the lockdown situation.’

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