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Former F1 chief drives strategy to serve one million meals to NHS frontline

Ron Dennis

One of Britain’s best-known businessmen, Ron Dennis CBE, has launched a major not-for-profit initiative to feed thousands of critical NHS workers with high quality meals over the next three months, enabling them to focus on saving lives and fighting Covid-19.

The nutritious and ready to eat meals will be made available free of charge to ICU teams, anaesthetic teams and A&E staff, who are unable to leave their clinical areas during their 12 hour shifts, which is the protocol being adopted by all Covid-19 designated hospitals.

The service, unveiled today by Mr Dennis – best known for his involvement with Formula One team McLaren – enables them to stay close to wards at all times without having to change out of protective clothing.

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Delivering the initiative, called SalutetheNHS.org, has brought together a group of leading food, logistics, packaging and other specialists, and has mobilised a large-scale, professional operation.

The goal is to serve one million meals to key frontline NHS workers over the next three months, both those working in hospitals and others who are infected and self-isolating at home.

The Dennis family is donating £1m to seed fund the initiative through their Dreamchasing Foundation, which is a charity, alongside £500,000 in match-funding.

The Taylor Family Foundation has been the first to contribute to the match-fund with £50,000.

They have been supported by Absolute Taste, which was co-founded by Mr Dennis and is one of Britain’s largest catering groups with its state-of-the-art kitchen in Bicester, Oxfordshire, while logistic support is being provided by Yodel, the leading parcel delivery service. Tesco will donate all the food and ingredients for the one million meals.

The group is also co-ordinating with NHS Charities Together, the official umbrella organisation for all the NHS charities around the country.

Other campaign partners include Team Rubicon UK, the disaster response unit staffed by former British Army volunteers, bespoke packaging company Leeways, law firm Withers, creative consultancy Hunter Design, communications firm Maitland/AMO, and appliance service provider Domestic & General, which is providing a professional and secure process to handle new donations and commitments.

These organisations are all working on a pro-bono basis.

SalutetheNHS.org began delivering the free meals from today, starting at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

Next week deliveries will start at Great Ormond Street, the London children’s hospital, and from there the programme will roll out to government-targeted locations across the country.

The meals will be made using food and ingredients supplied by Tesco and prepared by Absolute Taste, which is lending a significant part of its food production capacity to this effort.

The meals will comprise of a series of ‘Boost Packs’ intended for critical frontline NHS staff to eat either during their shift or to take home at the end of a long day. There are also Home Packs, which will be delivered to vital NHS frontline staff who are infected and self-isolating at home.

Ron Dennis CBE, co-founder of SalutetheNHS.org, said: “This is a time when all of us, individuals and businesses alike, need to stand up and be counted in the effort to combat COVID-19. We’re all in this together. I am delighted to be leading this initiative to help ensure that vital NHS workers have nutritious meals while they work every hour in this fight.

“It means they have one less thing to worry about. We have called this SalutetheNHS.org because I think we are all in awe of the work they are doing to save lives.”

Mr Dennis described it as a “huge logistical effort” to build a major, professional food delivery operation almost from scratch in a week.

“I have been so impressed by the fantastic things we have achieved together so far, but we need support from others, as well as ongoing donations to keep this whole operation going,” he said.

Nigel Harris, owner of Absolute Taste and co-founder of SalutetheNHS.org, said: “Scientists will find the vaccine for Covid-19, I have no doubt. The frontline NHS medical teams need to treat their patients, and to do that they need medicines, beds, ventilators, PPE, and they themselves need what every human needs to function: water, sleep, support and food. That’s where we can help in the war against Covid-19.

“We can make sure they get quality, nutritious and balanced food over a sustained period. So they can do what they do. This is what SalutetheNHS.org has been set up to do.”

More information can be found at www.salutetheNHS.org.

Organisations can volunteer extra support by emailing the organisation on icanhelp@salutetheNHS.org, while donations can be made via its Just Giving page or by calling 0800 497 0797.

Tags : Absolute TasteNHSRon Dennis
Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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