Doncaster gran reads her Thank You poem on BBC2’s The Great British Menu.

A poignant poem written by a Doncaster gran to thank hospital staff was used as the centrepiece of BBC2’s Great British Christmas Menu.

By Kev Rogers
Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 4:57 pm

Jessie McDonald’s poem ‘I Thank You’ thanking key workers during the pandemic, was chosen to close the finale of the show watched by viewers around the country last night.

Jessie 67 from Moss penned the poem during lockdown when she was isolating as a vulnerable person and it was published in a best selling anthology.

She said: “The NHS saved my life years ago. I have three children all who have partners and four of them were key workers. When when the pandemic hit, I thought it would be nice to say thank you to cheer them up a bit and lift their spirits. So I wrote the poem and sent it in to Doncaster Royal Infirmary.”

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Jessie McDonald's inspirational poem IO Thank You was read out on BBC2's Great British Menu

“They put in on their website and a lady Angela Marston saw it and and she picked up 100 poems which had been sent in and published them in an anthology ‘Poems for a Pandemic’”

“Apparently it was backed by the United Nations as some of the poems in there had been written by people as far apart as Australia and Canada - young children had written some of them. I think the oldest writer was aged 90 and the youngest was 12.

The book was published in July 2020 and we knocked Stephen Fry off the best seller list within 48 hours.

Jessie added: “Then I was contacted by the BBC who were doing a big banquet for 100 key workers and they invited me to go and read my poem.

Andi Oliver host of BBC2's Great British Christmas Menu. Picture copyright BBC

"They said it was going to be read out at the grand finale which was lovely.

“I couldn’t go because we were put into category three.The producer drove up to my house to see me and brought three boxes of lovely food made for the show.

“I don’t usually drink but I had a glass of Champagne to celebrate, sitting on my own because I have been locked down as I am at high risk. I was only let out at the beginning of November.”

Jessie says she owes her life to to the NHS.

Jessie's poem features in the best selling anthology Poems For a Pandemic.

She said: “I had two daughters and I had to go into hospital in a terrible mess when I was 29. They put me back together. I was two days in theatre.

“I went on to get a new career and had a son.

"And now my son has a little girl . If it hadn’t have been for the NHS they wouldn’t be here.

"They wouldn’t give up on me and they fought for me. We fought together.”

Great British Christmas Menu chefs created a special festive feast for some of the heroes of this year’s pandemic. (Copyright BBC)

Great British Christmas Menu, available on BBC iPlayer, reached its climax with a special festive feast for some of the heroes of this year’s pandemic.

Twelve of the country’s greatest chefs, all former Great British Menu winners, competed to create an extraordinary six-course banquet.

But with the second wave making a traditional banquet impossible, Host Andi Oliver and the winning chefs formulated a plan to make sure the show delivered the feast they had promised to celebrate the country’s key workers, taking the banquet to them, hosting six mini-banquets for key workers and giving others a ‘banquet in a box’ to cook at home.

The winning chefs must work together to change their dishes for this new format and prepare them so they can be finished and served in different venues all over the country.

While Andi helped to pack and deliver the dishes, the show’s regular judges Matthew Fort and Oliver Peyton rolled up their sleeves and helping to prepare the banquet at different venues.

I Thank You

By: Jessie McDonald

For all the attention and care, I thank you.

For all the mess and spills you clean, I thank you.

For all the time you give, I thank you.

For all the patience, I thank you.

For all the time the buzzer rings, I thank you.

For all the reassurance you give, I thank you.

For all the times you are run off your feet, I thank you.

For all the times you are tired but we sleep, I thank you.

For all the times you double check, I thank you.

For all the times I am a pain in the neck, I thank you.

For all the times you don't lose your temper, I thank you.

For all the times you always come back, I thank you.

For all the times you wipe our tears, I thank you.

For all the times you fill me with Cheer, I thank you.

For all the times you don't give in, I thank you.

For all the times you keep your tears in, I thank you.

For all the times you are in pain and don't show it, I thank you.

For all the big smiles you give,


The book ‘Poems for a Pandemic’” is published online by Harper Collins. It is available on Amazon downloads.

All revenues received by HarperCollins directly from sales of the ebook is donated to NHS Charities Together for their Covid-19 appeal.

Angela Marston is a retired Palliative Care Nurse who spent nearly 40 years in the NHS and Hospice services. She wrote her first poem whilst self-isolating with Covid-19 and, when she recovered, collected poems from other key workers and people affected by the virus.

She created an anthology of poems from nurses, doctors, and teachers; pharmacists and journalists; child protection officers and food bank volunteers. From people aged 9 to 92. From established poets and writers.