Thousands of pieces of equipment, food, Easter eggs - and enough curry to feed 200 staff - after Essex appeal to help the NHS

PUBLISHED: 16:05 08 April 2020 | UPDATED: 16:05 08 April 2020

A nurse at St Clare with boxes of fruit for her colleagues

A nurse at St Clare with boxes of fruit for her colleagues

Archant

A grateful patient set up a website to help her hospital and ended up helping three because the response was so overwhelming. She said: “There was an explosion of goodwill.”

Staff at Broomfield Hospital receive the food from The Pride of Sylhet in DunmowStaff at Broomfield Hospital receive the food from The Pride of Sylhet in Dunmow

Over 2,500 items of safety equipment, food and cosmetics have been given to NHS hospitals after a Facebook post led to “an explosion of goodwill.”

A grateful patient wanted to help staff at Broomfield Hospital on the frontline fighing the coronavirus outbreak.

Now, two weeks on, so much has been donated that supplies have also been given to St Clare Hospice in Hastingwood and the new Nightingale Hospital in London.

Rebecca Fewster, a working mum, started the call-out, in the tiny village of Flitch Green near Dunmow in Essex.

A nurse at St Clare with boxes of fruit for her colleaguesA nurse at St Clare with boxes of fruit for her colleagues

She said: “The goodwill has exploded. This has become a full-time job.”

People have given money, groceries and goods. The Pride of Sylhet restaurant (named after a town in Bangladesh) delivered enough food to feed 200 people at Broomfield Hospital’s A&E department.

There has even been a massive donation of Easter eggs in case NHS staff with children can’t get to the shops before the weekend. The Flitch Green call for help spread to other towns and villages - online sites in Felsted, Takeley, Canfield, Lindsell, Braintree and Chelmsford and Dunmow Pay It Forward,

Rebecca, 47, a heart patient visiting Broomfield Hospital for tests two weeks ago, saw how desperately staff there needed PPE (personal protection equipment).

She was told that the angio unit where she was being seen was about to be turned into intensive care,

When she got home, she opened a PayPal account to help the people who had nursed her after a heart attack. She said: “These people saved my life.”

She said: “Within 48 hours, people had donated £2,000.”

With the money, Rebecca went online and bought goggles, gloves, overshoes, hand sanitiser and face masks.

She bought the masks from a builders’ merchants in Sheffield. She also asked local businesses for help and the campaign has been showered with goods.

She said: “I asked local shops for help. The Modern Greengrocer in Dunmow gave me four boxes of fresh fruit.

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We took two to Broomfield and two to St Clare. The hospice has suddenly had its funding cut after the coronavirus outbreak.

“We have also given shower gel and teabags and coffee to the Nightingale.”

She said: “My garage is like Costco. It’s absolutely full but every single item is going to someone who needs it. Every tea-bag counts.”

Rebecca, who is married with a 10-year-old son, said: “Out of the blue, I had a heart-attack at the end of last year.

“I went back for a test two weeks ago and I was told that the place I was seen in was turning into an intensive care unit - and was very short of equipment. The nurses had nothing at all. These are the people who saved my life.”

Raza Shah and his team at the Pride of Sylhet prepared the food after seeing Rebecca’s appeal - making three types of biryani: lamb, chicken and vegetarian.

Mr Shah, 45, a father of two, said: “We just wanted to be helpful for our heroes. It’s heartbreaking what they are doing.

“They are working 18-hour shifts and they are exhausted. It breaks your heart. If we don’t help the NHS, how can we take the next step of our lives?”

Kelly Yates, Broomfield Hospital’s A & E secretary said: “It was fabulous, the staff were chuffed to bits. There was enough food for 50 A&E doctors and nurses, it also fed the staff in ITU and the AMU (acute medical unit).

It came at just the right time. It was brilliant. There was plenty for everyone.”

So far, the appeal has paid for 300 pairs of overshoes, 120 disposable surgical gowns, 600 pairs of disposable gloves, 30 visors, 120 pairs of safety goggles,

51 hand sanitisers, 40 bars of soap, 300 individual sachets of shampoo and shower gel and 140 tubes of hand cream.

Plus 1,400 other donated items been collected from local communities.

These range from hand sanitiser to tea bags.

The appeal continues to snowball. As we write, the owner of Chelmsford Road Garage in Dunmow has messaged Rebecca saying he is closing so he’s giving the appeal all his snacks.

The Paypal link is https://paypal.me/pools/c/8nPoYEb2WX or to donate goods, email Rebecca on: rebeccajf1@gmail.com


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