IT was a day to remember for Bradford residents and the pilot who flew the THANK U NHS Spitfire over the district earlier today.

The historic World War II aircraft did a flypast over several hospitals in the region, including the Bradford Royal Infirmary, Lynfield Mount and Airedale in Steeton.

As the Spitfire did its loop around Bradford, children at St Philip's C of E Primary School in Girlington watched with excitement.

"The children could hear hum of the Spitfire in the air before they could see it," said assistant head Claire Sykes, who also teaches year two. "It was such a beautiful day and when the pilot did that loop around Bradford it was almost like he did it just for us. We could clearly see the THANK U NHS.

"It was a positive for the children because a lot of their mums and dads work at BRI."

"It was also a real first hand learning experience for the children, who missed out on some life experiences with the pandemic," added Mrs Sykes. "We're learning about being grateful for things like our health, family, friends and school. But we also have a lot gratitude for the NHS."

Richard Willetts, of Great Horton, whose father's name Terry Willetts, is one of thousands hand-painted on the Spitfire, said: "I'm glad they took the time to come up and see us. Seeing the Spitfire brought back a lot of memories when we used to go to air shows when I was younger and of the time when I served as a air cadet in the Bradford 44F Squadron."

It was also a day to remember for the NHS Spitfire pilot, John Romain, managing director and founder of Aircraft Restoration Company, which is based at RAF Duxford.

Mr Romain said: "It all began with an idea around a family table during lockdown to fly our beloved photo-reconnaissance Spitfire ‘L’ around the local villages for the #clapforourcarers with ’THANK U NHS’ emblazoned on the underside of the aircraft.

"We hoped it would lift the community spirit and it did, the response was utterly overwhelming. We weren’t prepared for the emotionally charged messages of support and gratitude we received for that first flight. It paved the way for the development of the NHS Spitfire project.

"Our aim was to involve the nation to become a part of the story while raising funds for NHS Charities Together. Having now flown over hundreds of NHS hospitals and with thousands of names hand-written onto the Spitfire, we are humbled to have been able to give those in our communities a way of saying a simple Thank you.”