When the UK went into lockdown on the 23rd March, we were aware that the world as we knew it was going to change, for a few months at least. But little did we know that we’d spend 10 weeks clapping on our doorsteps with our neighbours, helping each other out with food shopping, cheering on Captain Tom, working out with oe Wicks and gaining a new respect for our great NHS and community care workers that we’d never, we hate to admit it, appreciated in the way we should have.
If you’ve been following our #LOCKDOWNHEROES campaign, which we started back in April, you’ll know that The Handbook, along with many of our friends in the restaurant and hospitality industry, have wanted to honour the heroes that have done something special over these past few months.
Teaming up with some of London’s finest restaurants and some of the UK’s five-star hotels, we wanted to gift the everyday heroes with either an all-expenses paid dinner for two or an overnight stay at a plush hotel once we return to normal again. We kicked off with Claridge’s and the campaign has seen us partner with many more, from Chewton Glen to Alain Ducasse, Searcys at the Gherkin to Brown’s in Mayfair. It’s a tiny gesture compared to what the real heroes have done and one we couldn’t have done without the restaurants and hotels that said yes to partnering. To them, we also give a massive thanks for giving so graciously to the campaign at a time when the hospitality industry itself has struggled so much.
Hundreds of you voted and we’ve loved reading the amazing stories of your heroes – we definitely shed a few tears – from front line medical staff to community carers, those raising money through Zoom quizzes and those delivering food to the most vulnerable.
Read on to hear some of the incredible stories from our Lockdown Heroes…
Winner: Naomi Hamilton, nominated by her daughter Emma.
“Mum is a nurse for the NHS and up until a couple weeks ago was nursing and caring for my uncle who was battling pancreatic cancer – it was so heartbreaking as we are all so close.
A couple weeks ago my uncle sadly passed away and it’s incredibly difficult for us at the moment. Mum is also nursing others and patients with Covid-19 whilst juggling her own life. She has been asked to step up and work extra shifts, she’s exhausted and mentally drained and she needs cheering up.
It’s been a very rough time for her and the whole family, she is the glue that holds everything together. She is always positive and upbeat and kind towards everyone. I hope I can do something nice for her.”
Naomi will be treated to a three-Michelin star three-course dinner with wine pairings for two at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester
Winner: Louisa Walters, nominated by Dan.
“I would love for Louisa to win as she has done so much for the restaurant industry. Louisa has raised over £64,000 in donations to help both restaurants and the NHS.
The donations help to buy food from restaurants which are then donated to NHS staff.”
Winner: Jayathi, nominated by her friend Rangika.
“I’d like to nominate my best friend Jayathi who is an ITU doctor at one of London’s worst hit hospitals. Her positivity never ceases to inspire me. She hasn’t seen her family for over three months now, and celebrated her baby boy’s second birthday by sending him kisses over video chat. Her enthusiasm and dedication to her patients, even when I know she is utterly exhausted, both physically and mentally, is why I nominate her. She gives so much of herself, it would be amazing if she were appreciated for the #lockdownhero she is.”
Jayathi will win a dinner for two with champagne at Searcys at the Gherkin.
Winner: Sandeep, nominated by her friend Raj Sandhu.
I'm nominating you for your fantastic efforts in volunteering to sew much needed scrubs for the NHS, we are so proud of you, keep up the brilliant work.
Sandeep will win an all expense paid dinner for two, plus sommelier chosen wine at Charlie’s.
Winner: Ben Miller, nominated by his girlfriend Amber
“Since being in lockdown my boyfriend has been furloughed and rather than take any time for himself to chill, he applied to volunteer straight away. He has now been volunteering at King’s College London Hospital for three weeks. He is making care packages for end of life patients and working in the wellbeing hub where doctors and nurses are fed and watered and have the chance to speak to someone if they aren’t feeling mentally well.
Given his efforts and want to help so much, he has been asked to become a patient friend where he goes round the wards chatting to and feeding patients who are ill or recovering from COVID-19, in full PPE, because the nurses don’t have the time to do this all.”
Ben will win dinner for two and a overnight stay at 11 Cadogan Gardens.
Winner: Andrew and Aiste, nominated by their friend George
“I cannot think of a couple more fitting in the description of Lockdown Heroes than Andrew and Aiste from the Mr Fox Pub.
Not only have they cooked and donated over 5,000 meals to the NHS across three South London Hospitals but Andrew is also the co-founder of a national campaign called #Raisethebar, which helps the hospitality businesses who missed out on Government Grants.”
Andrew and Aiste will win a three-course meal for two with sommelier-chosen wine at Roux at Parliament Square.
Winner: Ade, nominated by Sophie Boatman
My mother is bed bound due to Alzheimer’s so we have carers who attend throughout the day from an NHS funded company, Verilife. Ade is the main carer for her and I don’t know how my family and I would have coped without her. She is amazing and my mum is so relaxed with her. We have not visited mum in lockdown but knowing Ade is there means I can be relaxed and not worry. Ade always looks so dressed up on all her visits and I can imagine this dinner out would be such a treat for her.
Ade will win a three-course dinner plus wine in Darwin Brasserie at the top of the Sky Garden.
Winner: Amrita, nominated by her husband Jas.
“I want to nominate my wife Amrita for all the hard work she is doing n a virology lab, where they are testing the covid-19 samples. Working without PPE, she is risking her life everyday, and is working overtime and nights to get the work done. She comes home shattered, but is always up again the next day to go again. I’m so proud of her, she’s always rising to the challenge without ever complaining, and I really think this would be the perfect treat for her.”
Amrita will win an overnight stay and breakfast for two at the Lygon Arms.
Winner: June Hemsley
“June works as a palliative care nurse at Great Ormond Street and not only has she been dealing with changes to her shifts, her protection and workload, she lives on her own and has been staying away from friends to protect us all. I’d love to go for a nice long dinner with her when all this is over, she deserves it.”
June will win an overnight stay and breakfast for two at Chewton Glen.
Winner: Maddie Thompsett, nominated by her sister Harriet.
“My sister is a paediatric physiotherapist, however, due to the virus she is on the front line in PPE daily at a busy London hospital. After working long gruelling hours, she managed to contract the virus and has been off work this past week isolating in her London flat by herself with no human contact. Although being very poorly and quite lonely she has remained so positive and is fighting this virus as hard as she can so she can get back to helping people back on the front line again. She is a real life super hero and I am so proud of everything she has done.”
Maddie will win an overnight star at the five-star Cliveden House.
To read more about our Lockdown Heroes campaign and some of the previous winners’ stories, click here.
A huge thank you again to everyone that entered, we have loved reading your stories and to the restaurants and hotels who we have partnered with – we couldn’t have done it without you.
Claridge’s | Bob Bob Ricard | Frog by Adam Handling | Cliveden House | The Lygon Arms | Chewton Glen | Sky Garden Darwin Brasserie | Roux at Parliament Square | 11 Cadogan Gardens | Charlie’s at Brown’s Hotel | Searcys at the Gherkin | Benares | Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester
If your lockdown hero has been chosen, please check your inbox or Instagram DMs where we will be in touch to arrange your prize.