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By Christopher Leigh, Master Smoker, John Ross Jr

A Surrey woman inspired by the plight of critical care nurse Dawn Bilbrough, whose tearful video in response to supermarket shelves stripped bare by panic buyers went viral in March, has raised over £17,500 in less than two weeks and provided over 500 medical staff at Royal Surrey County Hospital with fresh fruit and vegetable boxes.

Ex-lawyer Wendy Roberts, 47, from Guildford, launched a Facebook group appealing to the Surrey community to help support keyworkers unable to purchase fresh food either before or after their shift due to the impact of Covid-19.

The ' fresh fruit and veg for the NHS staff ' group, which now includes over 500 members, was instrumental in raising £17,500 in only 10 days and the amount continues to grow.

Monies raised are being used to purchase fruit and vegetables from Surrey and Hampshire food wholesaler, The Bunch Carrot. Food producers including East Clandon-based smoked salmon producer, John Ross, which has donated 300 packs of smoked salmon, are also getting behind the campaign.

Over 500 nurses and medical staff, many of whom were moved to tears by the collective support of the Surrey community, queued up to collect a food box on Monday 31 March.

On the initiative’s success, Wendy, now a positive psychology coach, comments: "I just had one of those moments after seeing that nurse crying and pleading for people to stop panic buying. I thought if I could do something to help support NHS staff and ensure that they get the nourishment they need after a gruelling shift, then at least they wouldn’t have to worry about the availability of food on top of saving people’s lives. Many people have been touched by Royal Surrey Hospital in some way, which is why I believe so many people have been so keen to support the initiative."

Working closely with the operations team at Royal Surrey Hospital, Wendy has ensured that all those in need of food have ready access to it and that every pound donated continues to help Surrey’s keyworkers. Former nurse Anna-Marie Crossan and Kirsty Smith, both from Guildford, have also worked closely with Wendy to promote the initiative throughout their networks and community groups including Guildford Lions.

Victoria Leigh-Pearson, Sales and Marketing Director at smoked salmon producer John Ross, adds: "Wendy has done something really remarkable. Her initiative has not only alleviated medical workers’ concerns over basic needs as they work the front line to battle Covid-19, but also shone a light on Surrey residents who have shown a community spirit and proven that they’re willing to help others during this difficult time."

Those wishing to support the initiative are being urged to visit the ‘fresh fruit and veg for the NHS staff’ Facebook page, where they can make a PayPal donation and read the latest updates.

Two additional funds have since emerged from Wendy’s campaign that supports Frimley Park Hospital and Kingston Hospital. Donations can be made at and respectively.



September 15th 2021
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