Esther talks lunch with the Subway team in Wilmslow

Esther has praised the bosses of Subway in Wilmslow for the part they are playing in feeding front line workers and care home staff battling Covid-19.

The Tatton MP spoke with Rachael and Liam King who closed their doors due to the pandemic - but are now back preparing food to help ensure healthcare professionals are getting lunch.

They were approached by friends Paddy Doyle, and Rob and Natalie Garbutt of Lunar Green Ltd who set up The Big NHS Lunch Box aimed at getting a lunch to healthcare workers who may otherwise not stop to get one. After ploughing in £4,000 to get the scheme going, the three asked if Mr and Mrs King, who own two Subway franchises, would help them prepare food and deliver the lunches across Cheshire and Greater Manchester.

Mrs King said: “I think initially we started about 200 sandwiches a day and it has grown and grown and the most we have done is 700 sandwiches in one day. As the shop is not open and we are not trading it is actually quite a lot easier, it is a lot of bread to bake, a lot of cookies to bake but it has been really good fun and we have been really fortunate with people volunteering their time to help me come in and make the sandwiches. Also, drivers that have come and volunteered their time to deliver the sandwiches as we are delivering to hospitals, care homes, in total 13 different places and it does take a lot of work logistically to get the deliveries out.”

Since the scheme began donations have flooded in with more than £33,000 raised – the equivalent of 11,000 Subway lunches.

Esther heard of the initiative given the Wilmslow link and arranged a Zoom call to thank the friends for the work they are doing.

Esther said: “It was absolutely wonderful to meet the team behind the Big NHS Lunch Box as it is such an amazing initiative. These are people in the community going above and beyond and getting out there and helping people in the most difficult time many of us have ever lived through.

“Covid-19 is terrible and has devastated the lives of families across the country who are grieving the loss of loved ones, but at the same time the love and kindness of so many people also shine through in our communities. I was delighted to have had the chance to speak to the group and say thank you on behalf of everyone for the wonderful work they are doing. If you can give time or some money to help this wonderful cause I know they, and I am sure all the healthcare workers getting fed every day, would be so grateful.”

Mr Garbutt said: “It has been a real journey for us. Back in March we saw in the media the NHS frontline working around the clock doing amazing things at the hospitals when the pandemic began and they just were not getting lunch, so we put two and two together with Liam and Rachel who offered to open up their kitchens to us and we are now doing 500 subs a day.”

Wife Natalie reached out to other parents in the school’s WhatsApp group asking for donations and spoke to those of them who worked in the NHS to ensure the donations went where they were needed.

The scheme has been so successful it has now expanded to The Big Care Home Lunch Box.