Corona heroes have officially switched on Blackpool Illuminations.

7 September 2020

Some of Britain’s extraordinary Corona Heroes have officially switched on the Blackpool Illuminations.

Corona Heroes Switch On Blackpool Illuminations 2020

They gathered in the resort’s historic Empress Ballroom for a virtual Switch-On event that was streamed around the globe to trigger the start of four months of illuminations.

They included a consultant, frontline nurses, a hospital catering manager, extraordinary fundraisers, and a therapy dog and his owner.

The Switch-On moment was the centrepiece of an hour-long streamed event produced by MTV, which included “at home” performances by Melanie C, Becky Hill, Fleur East, Tom Grennan, Joel Corry, as well as an exclusive performance by Diversity.

Fleur also delivered her “Blackpool Rap” written and produced especially for the show, and there were cameo appearances by Ashley Banjo and Olly Murs, and the amazing sound of one of Blackpool’s Wurlitzer organs.

The live part of the event was switched to a closed set in the Empress Ballroom within the Winter Gardens following a last-minute technical problem in the Tower Ballroom.

The show was hosted by Jordan and Perri, with Blackpool-born singer-songwriter Rae Morris performing two songs before Illuminations Creative Curator Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen introduced the Switch-On stars.

Each carried an illuminated strip that was attached to the main switch so that they could all play a part in the resort’s first ever socially-distanced Switch-On.

Blackpool Illuminations Switch On 2020 credit Sky Shots Karl Houghton

Laurence said afterwards: “It was a huge privilege to be able to share a platform with such a deserving group of people.

“Their heroic efforts and those of so many people like them are truly humbling. I am sure that the 2020 Blackpool Illuminations Switch-On will go down in history simply because it has captured all of the emotion of such an extraordinary year.”

Cllr Gillian Campbell, Cabinet Member for Tourism & Culture for Blackpool Council, added: “This has proved to be the most memorable of Switch-On nights as it has given us a unique opportunity to pay tribute to the extraordinary efforts of our NHS, key workers, and other outstanding individuals.

“Those who turned on the Lights tonight each have their own remarkable story to tell. But more than that, they are here to represent the hundreds of thousands of people across the UK who have put their own lives on hold to help the nation through the worst public health crisis in decades.

“I would like to say a huge thank you to our Switch-On stars, to those who performed for us in the virtual show, to the MTV production crew who made this happen, and to Blackpool’s own Rae Morris who came home to deliver a spell-binding performance.”

This year’s Illuminations, which are being presented under a theme of Bring On The Light, celebrate the unstinting work of the NHS, key workers and other outstanding individuals during the coronavirus pandemic, with the Golden Mile featuring a display of hearts and rainbows.

A further 47 Corona Heroes have illuminated images of themselves included within that section. They were chosen from hundreds of nominations from across the UK.

It has already been announced that Blackpool Illuminations will be extended by two months, starting on September 4 and ending on Sunday 3 January, 2021. It will be the first time the Illuminations have shone over Christmas and New Year.


These are the Corona Heroes who switched on the 2020 Illuminations:

Leona Harris: The nurse from Rossendale has worked as a COVID-19 frontline nurse at Fairfield Hospital in Bury since the start of the pandemic.  Not only that, she has helped raise £75,000 and bought i-Pads for patients in hospitals, care homes, and hospices all over Britain to keep isolated patients and families connected. Her remarkable efforts earned her the nickname of “The Angel from the North”.

Rachelle Sutton: For three months, the nurse moved out of the family home and lived in a hotel so that she could complete 12-hour shifts at the Nightingale Hospital in Manchester at the height of the pandemic. During that time she won the “star award” from Nightingale for her dedication and compassion for end-of-life patients.

Will Ritchie: The six-year-old boy from the Wirral was born with a severe visual impairment and suffers with epilepsy. During lockdown his parents took the opportunity to increase his exercise tolerance. Over several weeks, he went from 100m to 1500m a day and then completed a challenge for June – Will’s Marathon Month. Inspirational Will has now completed 30 miles and raised more than £14,000 for the Wirral University Teaching Hospital Foundation Trust COVID-19 Support Fund.

Dr Jason Cupitt: The consultant led the COVID response at Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, working every day and most nights at the peak of the pandemic, spending only a few hours away from the hospital over several months. His constant presence provide encouragement and reassurance to staff and patients in the struggle against COVID-19.

David Anderson and Jasper the therapy dog. Hospital chaplain David and his cockapoo have provided support and comfort to sick patients as well as boosting morale for the staff on wards at East Lancashire’s NHS Hospitals. Earlier this year, Jasper was presented with an “employee of the month” award for his services to the hospitals.

Donna Doyle: Employed at Alder Hey Hospital for more than 40 years, the restaurant manager led her catering team through some unprecedented challenges, instantly doubling the number of meals produced on site to provide a free service for patients, families, volunteers and staff, and initiating a delivery service that took free food and drink to front-line staff.

Kirsty Jones: The nurse from Blackpool’s Trinity Hospice moved into a flat by herself in order to continue her work but also protect her husband who had an underlying medical condition and was on the shielded list. After moving out of the family home on April 15, Kirsty was only able to make daily contact with her husband and two children through FaceTime calls. She was eventually able to return home and be reunited with her family five weeks later.

See below for the full list of Corona Heroes who will have their illuminated images in the 2020 display:






Mark Stanley (deceased)

Specialist paramedic

Todmorden Ambulance Station

Isabel Johnson

Student nurse/COVID volunteer

UCLAN/East Lancashire Hospitals Trust

Spencer Gibbons

Director, Independent Living

Warren Manor, Blackpool

Dr Carole Gavin

A&E consultant

Salford Royal Hospital

Donna Doyle

Restaurant manager

Alder Hey Hospital

Will Ritchie

COVID fundraiser, aged six

The Wirral

Liam Entwistle

PPE stores department apprentice

Blackpool Council

David Anderson (and Jasper)

Hospital chaplain and therapy dog

East Lancashire Hospitals Trust

Mark Jenkins



Laura Martin

Cardiac day care nurse

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals

Dianne Bennison

Domestic staff

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals

Dr Jason Cupitt

COVID lead consultant

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals

Rachelle Sutton


Nightingale Hospital, Manchester

Simon Mitchell



Kirsty Jones


Trinity Hospice, Blackpool

Karen Knock

Nursing home senior carer

Braintree, Essex

Katherine Truelock

District nurse

North East England

Jeanette Richards

Children’s services leadership team

Blackpool Council

Derek Wright

Catering services manager

Blackpool Council

Abby Johnson

Ward sister

Royal Blackburn Hospital

Joy Redwood

Care team manager

Royal Bolton Hospital

Laura Crawford

Critical care nurse

Leighton Hospital, Crewe

Norbert Mate

Adult social care team

Blackpool Council

Justine Whittaker

Nurse consultant

Airedale Hospital, West Yorks

Debra Ramsdale-Walsh

Ward sister

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals

Leanne Ratcliffe

Intensive care nurse

Liverpool Heart & Chest Hospital

Mark Carrington

Support worker

Ashley Foundation, Blackpool

Rachael Bailey

Occupational therapist

Preston NHS Trust

Janette Mills


Southport Hospital

Rachel Carr

Community midwife


Dr Helga Brown


Blackpool Teaching Hospitals

Hola Healy

Healthcare assistant

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals

Jordan Field

X-ray assistant

Glan Clwyd Hospital, Wales

Phil Helm

Cardiology matron

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals

Rose Lord


Chorley Hospital

Charlotte Wells


Royal Derby Hospital

Laura Ivinson

Team leader

Corona Kindness hub, Blackpool Council

Tanya Elliot

Store assistant

B&M, Cumbria

Christine-Anne King

Private carer


Kelly Richards

Intensive care nurse

Wrexham Maelor Hospital

Dr Robert Downes

Intensive care doctor

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals

Terri Starkey

Newly-qualified nurse

Leighton Hospital, Crewe

Stella Noonan

Practice nurse

Sheffield NHS Trust

Emily Sykes


Blackpool Teaching Hospitals

Holly Chapman

District nursing sister

Lancashire NHS Trust

Leona Harris


Fairfield Hospital, Bury

Jackie Bailey

Intensive care nurse

East Lancashire Hospital Trust

Lee Andrew Jones

Patient Services Assistant

East Lancashire Hospital Trust

Samuel Johnston

Mental health social worker


Cath Powell

Community team leader

The Grange, Blackpool Council

Ellis Porter


Blackpool Teaching Hospitals

Ruby Aziz

Complex case manager

Royal Blackburn Hospital

Nina McCallion

Support worker

Renaissance Lancashire

Brett Hogarth

Factory manager (supplier of sterile gowns to NHS)

Survitec, The Wirral

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