Rick Astley has said that a free concert he is putting on for frontline workers later this year is a “flag in the ground” to give people hope that things will return to normal.

The singer-songwriter will perform at the Manchester Arena on October 28 for all NHS frontline staff, primary care and emergency services workers as a “thank you” to those working throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Astley told BBC Breakfast: “Everything they’re doing is absolutely incredible and someone like myself, you feel a bit helpless at times, you’re wondering what to do.

“So I guess that’s what I do, I sing for a living, so that’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to have a bit of a party on October 28.”

He added: “People have to put some gigs on and give people a bit of something to look forward to and to know that we will be through this and when we are, we can go out again, socialise again and do fun things again.

“I think this one-off gig that we’re going to do is just a flag in the ground to say, yes we are going to get back to normal, and we will be out there doing fun stuff again and obviously thank the first responders and the people on the frontline, that’s why we wanted to do that for them.”

The Never Gonna Give You Up hitmaker said that he was “gutted” to have to postpone his UK tour, which was meant to kick off on April 3.

“We tried to postpone (the dates) as soon as possible to give people the chance to sort stuff out and rearrange their lives around it, but it’s difficult making that decision, it’s the last decision you want,” he said.

“I’ve only cancelled one gig in the whole of my life and that was because I had horrendous food poisoning.

“It doesn’t sit well with me to do it, but obviously these are very different circumstances and it’s nobody’s fault, it’s just the way it is, but it’s gutting for people.”

Those keen to attend Astley’s free concert will need to bring their valid staff ID card as ticket checks will be in operation.

They will be able to bring one guest as a plus one, who must enter the venue at the same time.