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Salute the NHS

SalutetheNHS.org was launched by one of Britain’s most well-known businessmen, Ron Dennis CBE, and food and catering expert Nigel Harris, owner of Absolute Taste and former owner of Fresh Direct. It is a not-for-profit initiative that aims to deliver a million free meals to NHS frontline workers over the next three months.

Delivering the initiative has brought together an army of experts and partners from leading food, logistics, packaging and other specialists. These include Dennis’s DreamChasing charity, Absolute Taste, Tesco, Yodel, Team Rubicon, Hunter Design and maitland/amo, amongst others. The campaign started on Monday 6th April and is the largest ever mobilisation of the private sector in support of the NHS frontline. In its first four weeks alone, it delivered 100,000 Boost meals and 500,000 personal care products to NHS workers.

The operation is housed in a former WW2 RAF hanger at the Bicester Heritage site in Oxfordshire. However, it became apparent that the vast space felt daunting for the volunteers from the Bicester community, which consists of civilians, veterans and serving soldiers who have embraced the task of packaging the nutritious meals for the vital frontline NHS staff.

Reading-based audio visual production supplier SFL was approached by long-term client, Hunter Design, to help transform the site into a more conducive daily working environment for the 50-strong team of volunteers.

“When we were approached by Hunter Design about being part of the Salute the NHS initiative, the whole team could not have felt prouder about being involved in such worthy cause,” says SFL Events Manager, Mitch Jones. “Fifteen of our team immediately stepped forward and volunteered to transform the venue into a multipurpose, versatile space.”

SFL supplied 28 metres of beMatrix wall frame system to separate the space into individual areas that still adhered to strict health and safety regulations and hygiene requirements. SFL’s go-to graphics company, MediaCo Group, provided free bespoke wall prints with motivational messaging designed to lift the morale of the hard-working volunteers, who are packing around 10,000 meals a day.

SFL’s team installed six 85-inch plasma screens around the venue, which show rolling presentations with inspirational quotes, as well as videos with encouraging messages from celebrities and frontline NHS staff. For the launch of the initiative, it supplied a temporary stage for presentations from Dennis and other partners, which included a custom backdrop and camera solution, along with a digital mixing console.

“The production line was getting larger by day, so we introduced a pipe and drape solution to further divide the space,” adds Jones. “We wanted to create an atmosphere that is as intimate as possible, whilst still maintaining social distancing, so we also used uplighters to add colour to the walls.”

SFL also installed a PA system for music playback and general announcements, and a time-lapse camera system to record the entire operation.

“We all know how uplifting listening to music can be,” Jones continues. “Having crystal clear audio distributed across the space means people can enjoy their favourite tunes streamed directly from their phones by using Dennis’s ROXi music service, which he ensured was available to everyone there.”

The installation will remain on site for as long as the initiative runs, with SFL’s team doing weekly maintenance visits.

“I am deeply impressed by everyone’s total dedication to the cause,” exclaims Jones. “The volunteer turnout has been absolutely fantastic. I spoke to one of my friends who works in the NHS recently. She’s a single mum with three children and is working flat out on 12-hour shifts. Having to make food to take with her every day was something that just added to the strain. Not having to worry about that has made such a difference to her, and to so many other frontline workers.”

SFL have also been supporting other local initiatives, including up-lighting two entrances and providing projection mapped logos onto the front one of Reading’s best-known landmarks, the Royal Berkshire Hospital and, alongside Lumatech, lighting iconic locations around the town of Marlow blue. Both events happened on Thursday April 30th for the 8pm clap to thank the NHS heroes on the front line of the battle against and coronavirus.

Jones concludes, “We know that overall our contribution is small, but we are immensely honoured that SFL could be part of these two wonderful initiatives.”

For more information, please visit www.salutetheNHS.org