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Free NHS meals scheme backed by Damian Lewis and Matt Lucas to be rolled out in Aberdeen

Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory launched the FeedNHS campaign.
Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory launched the FeedNHS campaign.

A scheme to provide free meals to frontline health workers, which has been backed by Hollywood star Damian Lewis and comedian Matt Lucas, will be rolled out in Aberdeen next week.

The FeedNHS campaign was launched earlier this month, initially to provide food for staff at University College London Hospital (UCLH) while they treat coronavirus patients.

But support for the project grew quickly – thanks in part to a number of high-profile celebrity endorsements – and organisers are now ready to expand this across the country.

It has pledged to serve more than one million meals to hospital staff, including those at sites in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow, over the next six weeks.

The first meals will be delivered on Monday.

FeedNHS has teamed up with Mealforce, BaxterStorey, Feed Our Frontline and charity NHS Helpforce to tackle the task, which will involve the preparation of more than 25,000 meals per day and delivery to dozens of hospitals.

It was founded by Band of Brothers and Homeland actor Damian Lewis, Quiz actress Helen McCrory and comedian Matt Lucas, with the support of Leon Restaurants founder John Vincent.

In its first fortnight in operation, it received donations from more than 24,000 people and organisations across the UK.

Lewis said: “Thanks to the generosity of people at home and of businesses we have reached our initial target of £1 million.

“Every day we learn how to better support the hospitals, but also how big the need is, so we are continuing to raise the money that is needed to serve meals to more of our frontline NHS workers.”

Little Britain comedian and soon-to-be Great British Bake Off Host Matt Lucas has also been supporting the campaign from the outset.

He released a charity single, Thank You Baked Potato, with all of the profits going towards the FeedNHS project.

Lucas originally performed the song on comedy quiz show Shooting Stars more than two decades ago, and updated it with new lyrics referencing coronavirus health advice.

He said: “The Baked Potato Song was something I sung on Shooting Stars 20 years ago and in an idle moment on Tuesday night I rewrote the lyrics and updated them.

“Baked Potato is always giving good advice and the new advice in the new version of the song is about washing your hands, staying indoors and only going to grocery stores.”

A picture book based on the song will be released on May 4, with all profits from it also being donated to FeedNHS.

Talks are ongoing to further expand the scheme to location such as Manchester, Birmingham, Brighton and Cardiff.

The FeedNHS coalition has estimated it has the funds to serve up 25,000 meals per day for the next six weeks, but is looking for additional donations to keep the project running for longer.

Carol Haraldsson, from the UCLH NHS Trust Foundation, said: “Many doctors and nurses in critical care units do not have time to leave wards to get a good meal.

“Support from the FeedNHS coalition and funding has made a massive difference to our frontline team, helping to get meals to NHS staff that need them most.”

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