Brewery backs NHS thank you appeal

Frontline staff at Exeter’s Nightingale hospital with their gift bags

Frontline staff at Exeter’s Nightingale hospital with their gift bags - Credit: Paul Dimond

Branscombe Brewery owner Paul Dimond answered a call for help from daughter-in-law Sharon Pavey when she needed someone to deliver hundreds of goodwill bags to NHS staff on the coronavirus frontline.

Paul, who stopped brewing his famous ales when lockdown restrictions saw pubs and bars forced to shut, made himself and the brewery’s van available to support Sharon’s Thank You Exeter NHS appeal.

Fundraiser Sharon Pavey and driver Paul Dimond deliver gift bags to NHS staff at Exeter’s Nightingale hospital

Fundraiser Sharon Pavey and driver Paul Dimond deliver gift bags to NHS staff at Exeter’s Nightingale hospital - Credit: Paul Dimond

Since launching the appeal a month ago, Sharon and her family have already co-ordinated the delivery of hundreds of bags, containing luxury pamper gifts and a thank-you poem to NHS staff. This includes Exeter’s Nightingale hospital and the Covid wards at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital.

Paul explained: “Every time Sharon collects enough for 150 gift bags we deliver them. She is now looking to collect enough for 900 staff at the RD&E.”

Paul had no hesitation in doing his bit to support medical staff having recently spent a week in the RD&E for a non-covid related illness.

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Sharon, 47, a mum of three who lives in Exeter, said: “When the idea of bringing back the clap for carers was all over the news I started thinking about how I could reach the staff individually to say thank you.

“I felt strongly that we needed to do something practical to say thank you to the NHS staff working so hard in our city and I realised if I’m thinking this, there must be other people sat wanting to do something. We launched the appeal on Facebook and Go Fund Me and it took off, with £1,450 raised already.”

Sharon added: “This is a time when we all need to pull together as a community. We hope these small gifts will make a difference to our very own NHS heroes at the end of a long shift and show them just how much we appreciate everything they do for us. We are so grateful to everyone who has helped so far.”

A Nightingale nurse takes delivery of donated gift bags

A Nightingale nurse takes delivery of donated gift bags - Credit: Paul Dimond

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One of the messages Sharon received from a grateful nurse said: “I've been nursing since 1985 and have never felt so exhausted, sad, low and emotional as I do right now. I cannot begin to tell you how it feels knowing that local people have our backs. I want you

to know how very much it’s appreciated and how very grateful I personally am. It truly lifts the soul in very, very sad times.”

Another message of thanks came from Susie Robert, who said: “My son came home from the Nightingale last night after a long and stressful shift and was so lifted by the goody bag. Lovely useful toiletries and delicious chocolates. He was aching all over but he said it was so good to feel appreciated.”

The Thank you Exeter NHS appeal is trying to reach as many of the thousands of NHS staff in Exeter as possible.

To help, you can either order items direct and have them sent to Sharon’s home, addressing your gift to: Thank you Exeter NHS, 12 Celia Crescent, Exeter EX4 9DR. Or you can donate on the Go Fund Me Thank You Exeter NHS page, so Sharon can buy pamper items for the gift bags.

“We’ve heard from the nurses that they particularly need hand cream and lip balms,” said Sharon. “We also need gifts for men, they make up 30 per cent of the staff, but most of our gifts so far are for women. Male toiletries including things like shave balms, body sprays and moisturisers would be really helpful.”

The appeal is keen to encourage people to support local businesses if possible. Many businesses offering these types of goods are still running and can deliver. The appeal is being helped by the official RD&E Charity and wants donors to give in a Covid-secure way and urges people not to make extra journeys delivering goods.

Meanwhile, Branscombe Brewery is still carrying out home deliveries of bottled beers and small casks.

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