A GIANT-HEARTED family has helped raise an astonishing £20,000 in just six days to buy 1,000 ‘survival packs’ for hard-pressed NHS heroes at Frimley Park Hospital.
Business owner Ian Dawkins from Medstead, supported by his step-son and founder of the Farnham Rants Facebook page Lee Moran, and other family members, delivered two huge lorry-loads of goodies to staff over the Easter weekend assisted by the Army.
It came after more than 600 people, including many responding to Lee’s appeal on Rants, helped meet the family’s ambitious target in under a week – to the amazement of delighted NHS staff.
The incredible feat began a week earlier when Ian had an idea: to raise money for 1,000 hampers for NHS staff at Frimley Park Hospital. He sent a message to his family WhatsApp group, and the idea took flight.
Step-son Lee and his brother Charlie helped set up an online crowdfunding page, and posted a link on Facebook appealing for Rants members to contribute.
Lee’s sister Lauren also helped spread the message in London, his brother James donated £500, and thanks to a further donation by Ian’s own Ash-based courier company Hi Speed, within six days, the family had exceeded their £20,000 target.
After discussion with Frimley bosses, it was decided that instead of food, the immediate need was for hygiene products. This was because many staff have hardly left the hospital in recent weeks.
The next challenge was finding a shop willing to sell them more than three items at a time. Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose all said no.
But fortunately, Lauren’s boss at Nestle was able to pull some strings, and the manager at Asda in Farnborough, Jo Grover, not only agreed to give them what they needed – but also spent six hours hand-picking the items herself.
Ian then sent a lorry from his courier firm to pick up most of the goodies on Saturday, collecting the rest on Easter Sunday – but not before adorning their lorry with a ‘Thank you NHS’ banner borrowed from Aldershot Town FC, via another family friend.
The whole process, from Ian’s nugget of an idea to delivering £20,000 worth of shampoo, shower gel, bananas, Pot Noodles and other essentials to the staff at Frimley Park, took seven days.
“When we got there, all the staff were like ‘wow, where did this all come from!’” said Lee. “They knew it was coming, but they just didn’t quite realise to what extent.”
The Frimley Health Charity took it off their hands, and will ensure each and every member of staff at Frimley Park Hospital gets a share over coming days.
It is not the first time the family have pulled out all the stops for a good cause, with Lee citing Ian as a “big inspiration” for his own fundraising, having watched his step-dad raise thousands for Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice and the Frimley Health Charity over the years.
Lee has himself raised thousands for Phyllis Tuckwell through donations in return for advertising on Farnham Rants, and was instrumental in last year’s Farnham Soapbox, which raised more than £40,000 for the hospice.
Ian, 58, said: “To see so many people raise this cash and so many others help in putting the whole thing together has been wonderful.
“And being there on the day it was all delivered was quite emotional.”
Frimley Park Hospital’s fundraising manager Keith Hanks thanked everyone who contributed to the effort.
He said: “We have people working incredibly long hours or in isolation, who don’t get a chance to get out and buy what they need, so what you’ve all done is simply amazing.”
Lee thanked Rants members for coming good again.
He said: “Rants is a bit of a minefield, but when you round them up, they come up trumps. It’s amazing what they can do.”