A man who clapped workers at his local hospital for 40 days in a row has had the favour returned by hundreds of staff members.

Colin Wilkinson started clapping staff as they arrived for work at the entrance of Basildon Hospital in Essex early on April 25.

He decided to continue clapping them every morning, applauding workers for 40 days straight before they gathered to celebrate him on Wednesday.

Dee Saunders and her husband Kevin both work at the hospital, as a healthcare assistant and porter respectively, and said the sight of Mr Wilkinson each day had given her hope.

“It has been hard for us… There have been times I didn’t know what I was going to walk into,” Mrs Saunders told the PA news agency.

“But knowing that when I hit the roundabout just at the opening into the hospital, there was Colin on the green with the banner behind him always with a smile on his face clapping and saying thank you.

“It would give me hope that today was going to be a good one and hope that we were getting closer to the end of this all.

“I really don’t think he realises how many people he has helped to get through these very tough times.”

Workers say Mr Wilkinson gave them hope each morning (Nicola Swindell/Facebook)

Mr Wilkinson told LBC he decided to start clapping workers in April after walking to a rainbow-adorned banner outside the hospital to pray.

“A car went past, I started clapping… another car went past, I clapped again because that’s what we do for the NHS… it just went from there basically,” he said.

At the show of appreciation for Mr Wilkinson’s efforts, he was presented with a gift from Basildon Mayor David Burton-Sampson and a card from the hospital’s lead chaplain.