Barely two months after flying its first planeload of essential kit to the Covid front line, Mail Force has defied expectations again by raising £10million.
The head of the NHS expressed his delight at the ‘extraordinary’ total, thanking donors to a charity whose sole aim is to deliver personal protective equipment to health workers.
More than 7.5million items have already been sent to care homes and hospitals – to be supplemented next week with Mail Force’s biggest airlift yet.
Maria Willis and Megan Wills of Shedfield Lodge Care Home are pictured above in Mail Force PPE. With the whole world chasing a finite supply of equipment, much of it located in the Far East, the charity has sourced PPE wherever it can
And this weekend the charity will launch partnerships with leading voluntary groups to help ward off a second wave of coronavirus.
Consignments large and small – ranging from entire airliners full of PPE from China to vanloads of desperately-needed face masks – have been delivered to heroes fighting the pandemic.
The charity yesterday dispatched the first batch of an eventual 350,000 masks and 120,000 aprons to social care provider Mencap.
Mail Force was launched in late April by the Daily Mail and its partners, fund managers Marshall Wace, US software giant Salesforce and its chief executive, Marc Benioff.
The response was instant and overwhelming as our readers, business leaders and a cross-section of public figures rallied behind the NHS in its greatest hour of need.
Within a day, the campaign had received £1million from the philanthropists, Hans and Julia Rausing. The Duchess of Cornwall and the actress Emma Thompson both readily lent a hand. The head of Sky TV, Jeremy Darroch, has donated both money and TV advertising slots.
So many cheques were received that, laid end to end, they would stretch for more than three miles. So many envelopes have arrived that Mail Force has donated 20 sacks of them to the Bone Cancer Research Trust, which raises extra funds from recycled stamps.
Consignments large and small – ranging from entire airliners full of PPE from China to vanloads of desperately-needed face masks – have been delivered to heroes fighting the pandemic
With the whole world chasing a finite supply of equipment, much of it located in the Far East, the charity has sourced PPE wherever it can. As well as airlifts from China, there have been lorry convoys from Lancashire and as far afield as Istanbul.
In the coming days, hundreds of thousands of items of PPE will be sent to a range of charities in a voluntary sector reporting a devastating hit to fundraising operations.
An initial vanload of masks and aprons went to a Mencap depot in Kettering yesterday. There will be a series of further deliveries to Mencap offices serving its operations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland plus the work of its Scottish counterpart, Cornerstone.
The chief executive of Mencap, Edel Harris, yesterday revealed a projected 40 per cent fall in donations this year – around £3.5million.
The organisation, which supports 5,000 people with learning disabilities nationwide and offers services to a further 1.5million, must now find substantial extra funds for PPE.
The Duchess of Cornwall and the actress Emma Thompson both readily lent a hand. The head of Sky TV, Jeremy Darroch, has donated both money and TV advertising slots
To compound the problem, Mencap had been the designated beneficiary of this year’s London Marathon. Having spent two years planning a programme of activities and investments based around the race, the charity had to shelve those plans following the postponement of the race.
With its charity shops closed, more than 500 staff furloughed and all fundraising on hold, the charity is now enduring surely the gravest crisis in its 74-year history.
‘We really want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to all the donors to this great campaign,’ said Miss Harris yesterday.
‘It means an awful lot that people are thinking of us at this time and helping us in such a practical way.’
Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS, said last night: ‘This extraordinary sum is hugely appreciated – by nurses, doctors, physios and countless other staff who have cared so brilliantly for 100,000 patients who have needed hospital care for Covid-19 since this pandemic started.
‘Although we are through the first wave of this outbreak, this virus will leave a lasting and long-term impact on millions of people, on their families and on our NHS, so it’s great to know that the Mail Force donors will be behind us as we continue to help the country get through this pandemic.’
Masks remain in greatest demand, particularly the Type IIR surgical face mask.
As large parts of the economy return to work and facial coverings become mandatory in more and more settings, so the demand for these masks continues to rise, along with the price.
Many charities are compelled to buy them – some eating into cash reserves as a result.
Mail Force, meanwhile, continues to look for equipment everywhere. If it has to be sourced from factories overseas it is because they have often been the only manufacturers who can deliver.
Amelia Clarke of the Mail is pictured above among the 20 sackfuls of thoughtful readers’ donations
However, the charity is now ordering ever-increasing quantities of PPE from British companies. Having delivered four million aprons to the NHS from our production line in Blackburn, the charity has now ordered millions more from there.
All our PPE orders are checked in advance with procurement teams at the Department of Health and then vetted on arrival by the Health and Safety Executive and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
Having initially concentrated on establishing reliable supply lines, the charity has delivered most of its PPE straight to the central NHS warehouse and, thence, to the local resilience forums that are designed to prop up the care sector. Now, with the blessing of NHS bosses, Mail Force is expanding its operations to specific areas of the voluntary sector.
That is why Mail Force is so grateful for the continued support of Mail readers and of philanthropists far and wide. In recent days, the charity has been helped across the £10million line by everyone from a duke and a Wall Street bank to John and June Theobald of Burton, Dorset, who have now contributed twice.
The retired couple, both in their eighties, had already made a £50 donation when their friend, Lynne Cleary, refused their offer of payment for a grocery delivery. So they have sent the money – a further £50 – to Mail Force after seeing another report in the Mail.
‘There was a picture of three lovely care workers receiving PPE. One of them, she looked sort of weary and as though she had been through a lot,’ said Mr Theobald.
‘They need all the help they can get. They’ve almost been in a war zone.’
Other donations include a substantial grant from the Duke of Westminster via his Westminster Foundation. The duke had already given £12.5million at the start of this crisis to a cross-section of charities helping those affected by the pandemic.
A handsome donation of $100,000 (£81,000) has been received from the New York investment bank Jefferies. The bank recently held a charity trading day in memory of its chief financial officer, Peregrine ‘Peg’ Broadbent, who was British. Mr Broadbent died of complications after contracting Covid-19 earlier this year.
The bank’s chief executive, Rich Handler, said it had distributed all the money raised to a number of worldwide charities ‘who can make the biggest impact’ in the battle against the virus.
He added: ‘All of us at Jefferies are honoured to make these donations in the name of our fallen CFO, friend and colleague, Peg Broadbent who was born and raised in the UK.’
Here’s how your breathtaking generosity has transformed lives
While millions of masks and aprons have been delivered to the NHS, Mail Force has also been donating PPE to small care homes and hospices often overlooked by the system but where the need was just as desperate.
Although that phase of Mail Force has come to an end, here are some of the uplifting stories of how the donations have helped.
Yesterday, a Mail Force van delivered the first batch of an overall donation of 350,000 masks and 120,000 aprons destined for Mencap – one of Britain’s largest social care providers.
The charity will be delivering hundreds of thousands of pieces of PPE to Mencap’s regional offices over the coming weeks.
The donations will ensure that there is a steady supply for all 8,500 Mencap employees across the UK for months to come.
And at a time when fundraising operations have fallen through the floor, providing PPE means Mencap can ensure that scarce funds will be diverted to other essential work.
Corynda Stevens, Mencap’s service manager, and area operations manager Hayley Teall received the Mail Force delivery at their offices in Kettering.
First batch: Mencap’s Hayley Teall and Corynda Stevens receive the Mail Force delivery
Hampton House, Hereford
Before coronavirus, it was the floods. In February’s devastating Storm Dennis, Hampton House care home in Herefordshire was surrounded by water.
The manager decided to move in so that she could support the 31 residents. And just as the floods subsided, Covid-19 descended.
All of the Hampton residents – aged 85 to 106 – have remained virus free thanks of the vigilance of staff and Mail Force.
The care home’s boss Carol Thompson said: ‘I am extremely proud of the team. I can’t praise them enough.
‘Gifts like this from Mail Force will really boost morale because it just shows that people out there really do care about them.’
Virus free: Staff at Hampton House with residents Edna Groves and Murial Roberts
Staying safe: Barbara Tyrrell from Mellor Nook with the delivery of face masks
Mellor Nook, Stockport
Second World War heroes who put their lives on the line are now trying to stay safe from Covid-19.
At Mellor Nook – a small care home in Stockport run by husband and wife team Jim and Eleanor Critchlow – one third of residents fought in the conflict.
Before the Mail Force delivery, the Critchlows said soaring costs of face masks meant they were being ‘held over a barrel’.
Family visits were cancelled, while celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day did not go ahead as planned.
But resident Merl Smith, 89, said: ‘Everyone’s got along very well. It’s been a family atmosphere.’
In the area, the Mail Force van also delivered to Davenport Manor and Chester House in Stockport, The Vicarage at Audenshaw and Clarkson House at Ashton -under-Lyne.