Stars from screen and sport are among those backing local business leaders a huge fundraising effort aiming to keep a luxury sleeper bus for Teesside’s front-line NHS workers to grab a much-needed rest between long shifts during the Covid crisis.
Peaky Blinders actress Charlotte Riley, from Stockton and married to Hollywood actor Tom Hardy, TV presenter Steph McGovern, Middlesbrough Football Club and Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen have got behind the push.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust need around £500 a day to keep a valuable state-of-the-art sleeper bus donated by Vans for Bands on site for doctors and nurses to use as rest facilities during the Covid-19 crisis.
Dr Paul Williams, the former Labour MP for Stockton South who has returned to NHS service, is behind Sleep4Heroes and three local Teesside businessmen – Nick Waites, Karl Pemberton and Martyn Pullin – have united behind him to help the fundraising push along with the assistance of local firm Cornerstone Marketing Solutions.
Dr Williams, speaking in a promotional video, said: “There are many staff who carry on working tonight, tomorrow, 24 hours a day, looking after some of the sickest people with coronavirus.
“Staff are allowed to use the bus for relaxation, a rest, during their busy shifts. It is a wonderful gesture but there are costs associated with it.
“During this time, having a place for these hard working people, particularly those working in intensive care, to be able to relax and get their head down for a bit is really useful.
“If you can help support the charitable fund then we would be very grateful for your donation.”
The North Tees Sleep4Heroes campaign is hoping to raise enough money to fund the bus – usually used by stars of music when they tour Europe – for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.
Nick Waites said: “We are looking to raise as much as possible to enable North Tees Hospital to operate the bus without any cost to themselves. Whether that be a daily contribution of £5 in lieu of a couple of cups of cappuccino that you’re no longer having, £50 per week in lieu of filling your car with fuel, or a one-off donation no matter how large or small, it will all help.
“We dream of a situation where we can get 100 people to pledge the equivalent of just £5 a day payable on a monthly basis but even a £1 a day topped up with some one off donations will enable us to achieve our goal.
“While there is a national fundraising effort for the sleeper buses, we are keen to make sure we do what we can do make sure NHS staff closer to home receive a helping hand financially.”
The North Tees Sleep4Heroes has already had contact with numerous familiar names and it wants to secure further help from across the region and beyond.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust was the first in the area to be handed one of the sleeper buses.
It is part of a fleet of luxury vehicles usually used by rock and pop stars which are currently parked outside NHS hospitals across the UK as well as at the University Hospital of North Tees.
To get behind the fundraising effort check out the North Tees Sleep4Heroes page on Just Giving by clicking here. There are pages on Facebook and Twitter to check on progress too.