The O2 in London has announced today (Tuesday) that the NHS now holds its title of ‘longest residency’ after the venue was turned into a training facility for 44 days during the COVID-19 crisis.

The ‘longest residency’ record has been held by the likes of Prince, Michael McIntyre and Take That but the title has now passed on to the NHS.

The O2 announced last month that the arena would be made available from April 12 as an NHS training facility. All staff trained at The O2 went on to work at the NHS Nightingale field hospital at ExCeL London.

To commemorate the milestone now that the facility has been stood down, and to show thanks to the venue, staff from the NHS education team signed a piece of nightingale during their residency (pictured below). The design was created by British artist and illustrator Madeleine Floyd.

The piece will now sit in the backstage area alongside signed imagery of stars who have previously performed at The O2.

Danielle Kennedy-Clark, deputy general manager at The O2, said: “We’ve hosted some real heroes during these past few weeks and it has been a privilege for AEG, along with our partner O2, to have been able to play our part during these challenging times. This has been our most important residency to date and we’re grateful to the team for this special piece of artwork to remind us of such a poignant time.”

O2 chief executive Mark Evans added: “We’re proud through our partnership with AEG to have been able to support the fantastic work of NHS with the training facility at The O2 arena. We continue to work hard to keep the nation connected, and remain committed to supporting customers, key workers and the NHS with the network and support they need during these unprecedented times.”

The O2 remains closed to the public but plans are underway to start a phased reopening of parts of the venue this summer, with the Icon Outlet and Up at The O2 planned as the initial stages.

All 120 of the NHS education team who ran the training facility are also being invited back to the arena to climb the Up at The O2 attraction when it reopens in July.

Staff at The O2 recently took part in a staircase challenge in memory of Up at The O2 climb guide Mark Griffiths, who passed away due to COVID-19. Over £8,000 was raised and all funds from the challenge will be donated to the NHS.

Images: The O2