TV star lends voice to Wigan man's emotional poem to frontline workers

A Wigan Council service manager has become the voice of the nation with an emotional poem paying tribute to frontline workers.
Matt KellyMatt Kelly
Matt Kelly

Matt Kelly’s message of hope was penned initially for his partner Jill Scully, a district nurse, who shared it with colleagues and on social media.

The piece has now been passed around the country and has been brought to life by one of the UK’s most prominent actors.

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Matt, who works for the parks and streetscene team, was inspired by Jill’s hard work on the frontline of the Covid-19 response and her daughter, Lily, expressing concern for her mum.

Christopher Eccleston. Image by Super Festivals / CCChristopher Eccleston. Image by Super Festivals / CC
Christopher Eccleston. Image by Super Festivals / CC

He said: “I have been very humbled and honoured by the reaction; especially hearing stories of it bringing health care staff to tears.

“I have always messed about with poems, in birthday cards and things like that, but never something like this. I’ve just always been interested in the power of the English language.

“I thought about when we’re all clapping on our doorsteps on a Thursday night, perhaps we are all guilty of taking the NHS for granted at times.”

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His words were voiced by Christopher Eccleston as part of a BBC radio slot on Friday.

Matt said: “I was asked if I would read it for them and I mentioned I had been practicing in the style of Christopher Eccleston.

“Next I heard they had asked him if he would perform it and he said he would be honoured.

“I burst into tears – it was just surreal to hear him read out these words that I had written in the middle of the night on my phone.”

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The poem will now be used by Wigan Council to help a recruitment campaign for volunteers and frontline workers.

Leader of the council, Coun David Molyneux, said: “We have seen across Wigan Council and our partners in the health services that staff are showing exceptional levels of dedication to serve our communities.

“Matt’s inspiring words encapsulate our gratitude for the NHS and all key-workers and this emphasises why we all need to do our bit to relieve the strain on them by following the public health guidelines.”

Matt's poem:

I'll tell you a tale that's been recently written,

Of a powerful army, so Great it saved Britain.

They didn't have bombs and they didn't have planes,

​They fought with their hearts and they fought with their brains.

​They didn't have bullets, armed just with a mask,

We sent them to war, with one simple task.

To show us the way, to lead and inspire us,

To protect us from harm and fight off the virus.

​It couldn't be stopped by our bullet proof vests,

​An invisible enemy, invaded our chests.

​So we called on our weapon, our soldiers in blue,

All doctors, all nurses, your country needs you!

We clapped on our streets, hearts bursting with pride,

As they went off to war, while we stayed inside.

They struggled at first, as they searched for supplies,

But they stared down the virus, in the whites of its eyes.

They leaped from the trenches and didn't think twice,

Some never came back, the ultimate price.

So tired, so weary, yet still they fought on,

​As the virus was beaten and the battle was won.

The many of us, owe so much to so few,

The brave and the bold, our heroes in blue.

So let's line the streets and remember our debt,

We love you, our heroes, lest we forget.

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