Tempus salutes the luxury British brands helping our frontline workers during the Covid-19 pandemic
From hotels and fashion house to skincare and jewellery, we meet just a few of those brands helping to ease the pandemic, feed the hungry and help the heroes
A WARM WELCOME
Grand dame hotel Claridges has, in its time, given lodging to everyone from Queen Victoria to Audrey Hepburn, and lately it’s been opening its doors to some 40 NHS workers from St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, who have been unable to go back to their own homes during the pandemic. In addition, kitchen staff from The Connaught and The Berkeley – both hotels in the Maybourne Group that owns Claridges – provided free meals for NHS professionals, which were delivered by the Helpforce charity.
“Just as it has in the past world wars, Claridges has a duty to step up and support the people of London,” says Paddy McKillen, co-owner of the Maybourne Group. “Teams from all our hotels have volunteered to help and support the dedicated NHS workers at this critical time. We are forever in their debt.”
Away from the capital, the PIG Hotel Group is celebrating frontline workers by offering 190 overnight stays in any one of its six luxury country bolt holes, which includes hotels in Bath, Combe and the New Forest. Founders Robin and Judy Hutson also plan to throw a special NHS house party for medical workers at each PIG hotel upon reopening, during which frontline staff will be lavished with feasts from the hotels’ sustainable kitchen gardens, along with bed and breakfast. The promotion is part of the #TreatOurNHS initiative, founded by Devon proprietor Sarah White, which will see NHS workers offered holidays once the hospitality industry opens its doors again. The PIG Group was the first hotel group to sign up for the initiative, which includes holiday homes ranging from Scottish castles to French chateaux.
A venture to provide isolated NHS shift-workers with hampers and restaurant-quality meals was, quite literally, cooked up by film PA Lulu Dillon in her own kitchen.
The idea, Cook-19, soon found the support of Dillon’s friend and neighbour, Michelin-starred chef and Murano restaurateur Angela Hartnett, who contributed everything from frittatas to apple crumble to be distributed to locked-down NHS staff by an amazing army of volunteers, including 15 drivers and some 30 chefs.
So far, Cook-19 has raised more than £120,000 with the support of volunteers and hospitality brands. Upmarket steak restaurant Hawksmoor offered up the use of its restaurant kitchen while Fortnum & Mason donated 800 Easter eggs. By Friday 8 May, they’d delivered their 25,000th meal to frontline professionals.
“We believe that there is magic in the nourishment of good food cooked by good people,” says Dillon. “Food that is given with no strings attached, but with the hope it gives strength to those that receive it. Food cooked with love by those that give their time freely, who use the skills they have to create something for others that says: we’re thinking of you, we’re here for you, we thank you.” >>
DRESS TO IMPRESS
Sometimes the right outfit at the right time can really be a lifesaver, and this year Burberry produced its most desired line yet: designer PPE. The British brand repurposed its manufacturing facilities in Castleford, West Yorkshire, to make non-surgical gowns and more than 100,000 surgical masks for NHS workers and their patients. The label also donated to UK food poverty charities including FareShare and The Felix Project, and is funding research into a vaccine developed by scientists at Oxford University, which has one of the world’s best track records in emergency vaccine development.
“Covid-19 has fundamentally changed our everyday lives, but we hope that the support we provide will go some way towards saving more lives, bringing the virus under control and helping our world recover from this devastating pandemic,” says Burberry’s CEO Marco Gobbetti. “Together, we will get through this.”
Elsewhere, Barbour has also been producing thousands of protective gowns and face masks for frontline medical workers in the north-east of England. Better known for its wax jackets and country fashion, such as the Barbour Beadnell Jacket (left), the clothing retailer has repurposed its production line to help plug the PPE gap (below left). “I offered to see how we could help because I have a lot of machinists that are locked down at the moment,” Dame Margaret Barbour told BBC Radio 4. “It has been difficult because we had to undertake the strict guidelines laid down to make sure that they have plenty of protection and plenty of space around them.”
Mulberry, too, pledged to make more than 8,000 re-usable PPE gowns for frontline workers in its Somerset factories. Destined for the University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, the gowns are made with a specially sourced material that is fluid-resistant and washable. The UK fashion house has also teamed up with a network of local community groups making scrubs to order, using its factory machinery to cut large volumes of fabric into patterns for volunteers to stitch. Meanwhile, it has raised more than £75,000 through its Coronavirus Appeal in support of the National Emergencies Trust since March. >>
The jewellery industry has rocked up to help, with the likes of Tiffany & Co and De Beers donating millions to emergency workers and causes. British jeweller Graff announced in April that its foundation had donated $1m to the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund in support of the World Health Organisation.
Asprey announced a zero-profit initiative supporting The National Emergencies Trust – a disaster charity that provides support to organisations and services on the Covid-19 frontline. The jewellery brand is selling specially engraved silver editions of its 167 Bond Street Pendant (right) through its website, with all funds going to the trust.
“Our modest initiative is the least we can do show our support of these incredible and vital institutions working tirelessly to aid those most in need,” says Asprey chairman John Rigas.
SCENTS OF DUTY
Proving that kindness smells sweet, London perfumer Miller Harris was one of the first luxury brands to rise to the challenges to the UK presented by Covid-19.
As early as March, the brand announced a collaboration with Age UK that saw the donation of its entire stock of 11,000 lotions, soaps and handwashes to the over-70s. Products were distributed nationwide to the vulnerable. Miller Harris, which has since donated soaps and shower gels to food banks, called on other SMEs to help charities.
“We are seeing huge acts of kindness among the gloom of the news, and it is these acts of kindness that bring us hope,” says CEO Sarah Rotherham. “As a brand, we feel compelled to help in any way we possibly can, and it would be a sin to see our stocks of soap sat in warehouses rather than reaching the most vulnerable in our society. Alone we are small, together with other brands we can have a huge social impact.”
Other brands to heed the call have included Jo Malone, whose Petersfield manufacturing facility produces hand sanitiser for healthcare professionals, and its parent brand Estée Lauder Companies UK & Ireland, which has gifted hand cream and body wash products to key workers as a gesture of appreciation. Care has come from abroad, too, with Italian brand Bulgari donating over 160,000 units of hand sanitiser to the NHS.