Leeds & West Yorkshire

Coronavirus kindness: Chefs serve up free meals to NHS staff

Richard Dunn from the Punch in Honley
Image caption Richard Dunn hopes the free meals will "ease the burden at home a little"

A restaurant is dishing up hundreds of free meals to NHS workers and their families amid the coronavirus crisis.

The Punch Bar & Tapas in Honley has taken orders for 200 meals for doctors, nurses and other staff each week for the next three months.

It comes from a £20,000 donation from residents Ian and Jill Swire.

Co-owner and chef Richard Dunn said: "These workers are absolutely exhausted and hopefully this will ease the burden at home a little."

Mr Dunn said the response had "gone nuts" and that he and business partner Wayne Roddis were working flat-out to prepare the orders, which will go out three times a week.

"The limelight is not on us, it's about those people in the NHS who are saving lives," said Mr Dunn, age 47.

"It's also helping support so many other people and businesses affected by this disease such as our suppliers, so it's having a positive knock-on effect."

The idea came about after Mr Swire, 56, said he had a "Geldof moment" while watching a nurse on the news upset at not being able to buy food in the supermarket.

"I said to my wife, 'we need to do something'," he said.

"I don't have Phil Collins or Sting's number in my phone book, but I do have Rick and Wayne so we got in touch and asked if they wanted to help."

Mr Swire - who is the former chairman of Sheffield Eagles rugby league club - added: "The restaurant has played a big part in my family's life, all my kids have worked there, from being pot-washers to waitresses.

"We are extremely lucky to be in a position to help out like this, but this is a payback to the NHS and of course it also helps support and raise the profile of the restaurant for when life returns to normal."

Mr Dunn and Mr Swire said they were being careful to follow social distancing rules, and had taken advice from Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney.

"We have markers where people have to stand when collecting the food and only one person is allowed in at a time," Mr Dunn said.

"We put the food on a table and they come forward to pick it up."

He added: "Of course there may well be further announcements on stricter measures which means we have to stop what we're doing but we'll carry on until we are told not to."

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