NHS workers get big match treat for pandemic work

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Sussex NHS Workers at BHAFC match

A sponsor of Brighton and Hove Albion FC made a group of NHS workers from Sussex guests of honour for a recent Premier League match after being inspired by the work his daughter did as a nurse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chris Ruff is Managing Director of SnickersUk.com, a workwear company based in Hailsham, and is one of the kit sponsors for the Seagulls’ men and women football teams.

For last weekend’s clash with Watford, he donated half of his match sponsorship package to six NHS workers from University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust and South Central Ambulance Service, this included hospitality in the award winning Harry Bloom’s restaurant at the American Express Community Stadium.

Chris said: “My daughter, Gemma, is a nurse. She works as a ward sister at the Victoria at Lewes. I saw what she went through throughout Covid and how hard it was for her and everyone working in the NHS. I saw how she was at the end of another 14hr day.

“I was extremely lucky, didn’t get sick, didn’t lose anyone, kept trading all the way through. Having seen what my own daughter went through, I wanted to say thank you in some small way to the absolute heroes of the NHS.

“I couldn’t invite the whole NHS workforce but I just wanted to do what I could for local heroes.”

The football club put Chris in touch with Rob Galloway, who aside from being A&E consultant at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, is also the match day doctor at the AMEX.

Rob’s match day job meant he was unable to take up the offer himself but he found six worthy recipients from across the Trust.

Angie Mitchell; Hayley White; Jack Moore; Max Denyer; Lucas Zampieri; and Grant Adams all attended the game having been recommended for their efforts during the pandemic.

Angie, an ICU sister at The Royal Sussex County Hospital, said: “We had an amazing time. I have been a Brighton fan all my life so it was an honour to represent the ICU team. There was an outpouring of love to the NHS from everybody at the stadium and they all seemed very grateful for the efforts we have made over the past 18 months. We were treated so well and everyone had a great experience.”

Max, an A&E staff nurse at Worthing Hospital, added: “We received a great reception from the sponsors and staff couldn’t do enough for us. We were made to feel so welcome by everyone and had an amazing experience.”

Chris added: “When they were introduced in the restaurant before the game they received a rapturous welcome, I’ve never heard applause like it. And they deserved it so much. It was a tiny gesture on my part but I just wanted to say my own thank you in a way that I could. And Brighton won 2-0 which was the icing on the cake!”

Albion chief executive and deputy chairman Paul Barber commented, “Snickers UK have been an excellent partner and supporter of the club backing both our men’s and women’s team, and this is a wonderful gesture by Chris to local NHS staff.

“The amazing efforts of NHS and other health workers across Sussex, and across the country in general, has been truly incredible and it is great to see their work recognised in this way.

“On behalf of the club, I would like to thank him for this very kind donation and his ongoing support to the club.”