People in Barnstaple were treated to the sight of a Spitire plane flying overhead on Tuesday afternoon (August 18).

The 'NHS Spitfire' pictured over Barnstaple. Picture: Simon ElleryThe 'NHS Spitfire' pictured over Barnstaple. Picture: Simon Ellery

A special NHS Spitfire with ‘Thank U NHS’ on its wings passed over North Devon District Hospital just after 3pm as part of a tour of hospitals in the South West.

Minutes earlier it had passed Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, and after travelling over North Devon it headed to Morriston Hospital in Swansea.

The blue photo-reconnaisance aircraft has been dubbed the ‘NHS Spitfire’ after taking flight with the thank you message during the final Clap for our Carers.

Owners the Aircraft Restoration Company then decided to leave the message on the aircraft for the rest of the flying season.

The NHS Spitfire over Barnstaple. Picture: Jade ClementsThe NHS Spitfire over Barnstaple. Picture: Jade Clements

Its aim is to lift the spirits of those across the UK, whilst also thanking the hospitals, communities and people who have been at the forefront of getting the country through the pandemic.

They are giving members of the public a chance to have the name of a loved one hand-written on to the Spitfire to raise money for NHS Charities Together.

People are advised to go to the Spitfire’s JustGiving page, and donate a minimum of £10, stating their loved one’s name and the reason for their nomination in the donation comment.

John Romain, founder and managing director of Aircraft Restoration Company, said: “The response to our initial flight over the last 8pm #clapforourcarers Thursday was incredibly humbling, with hundreds of people from the local community sharing how wonderful it was to not only see the Spitfire, but also to read the message emblazoned across its wings.

The 'NHS Spitfire' pictured over Barnstaple. Picture: Simon ElleryThe 'NHS Spitfire' pictured over Barnstaple. Picture: Simon Ellery

“After such a positive response we decided to leave the message painted on the Spitfire for the rest of the flying season, this is where the idea to hand write the names of the nation’s loved ones onto the aircraft to raise money for the NHS Charities Together began.”

The blue Spitfire was specifically built and used for photo reconnaissance during the conflict, carrying cameras instead of weapons.