Our shop has reached out to vulnerable One Leicester corner shop has been working tirelessly to help the local community. Pratik Master, 34, owner of Wigston Fields News & Deli, cannot remember the last time he had a day off. In between helping customers at the shop he runs with his wife Bee, 32, he chats about what keeps him going. “Adrenalin!” he says. “I think one of the things that people really do undervalue is the feeling of being needed. I tell you what, that keeps you going every single day.” And since Pratik and Bee took over his dad Jayendra’s cornershop LAURA MCKENZIE AND HER FAMILY, WHO RUN CATHEDRAL HOUSE – A BOUTIQUE HOTEL A FEW MINUTES FROM GLASGOW ROYAL INFIRMARY – HAVE PROVIDED MEALS FOR HARD-WORKING HOSPITAL STAFF W bangers and mash, and Thai curry. “It was a simple menu, all cooked fresh with lots of veggies, and the sort of dishes you’d cook for yourself when you get home from work,” says Laura. Doctors staying at the hotel were delighted because Laura would text them to see if they wanted a dinner putting aside – and they could pop down to the kitchen to collect it. Laura’s homely hospitality was a real comfort to her guests. “We had a couple from Stornoway who had a really premature baby and they were air-ambulanced down to Glasgow. One of our rooms was empty and the hospital said, ‘Could you look after this couple for us?’” she says. “God love them, they were absolutely shellshocked. I said to pop down to collect a meal and they were so grateful.” Laura has been thrilled worked with the head nurse at the Infirmary to set up a menu. “We decided we were going to do 100 meals a day,” she says. “We did 30 veggie options and 70 meat options and bought little takeaway tubs and labelled them all up with little stickers that said ‘With love from Cathedral House’. And every night at quarter to seven, the driver from the hospital would come and take the big boxes of food away. “He said there was always such a buzz. People were like, ‘Oh, the food’s coming! What have we got today?’” The hotel has now delivered more than 4,500 dishes such as jambalaya, “I made a few calls and straightaway we had the team we needed to start producing the meals,” she says. “It was probably 10 days from thinking, ‘This is horrific, this is the end’, to thinking, ‘We can do something good and support the local hospital here’.” Laura, 52, knows the pressure NHS staff are under because her daughter Emily, 24, is a junior doctor in Dundee, so she was desperate to help. With the hotel’s staff all on furlough, Laura assembled a team of volunteer chefs from the city. The Red Onion’s patron/chef John Quigley was one of the first to step forward and Laura hen the coronavirus pandemic hit, Laura McKenzie had a flood of cancelled bookings at her Glasgow hotel, Cathedral House. The McKenzies had spent 18 months building up business at the boutique hotel, which offers a luxurious “home from home” atmosphere, so they were shattered. But within days, Laura, who runs the hotel with husband Shane and two of their children, Callum, 21, and Anna, 18, was inspired to help staff at nearby Glasgow Royal Infirmary. First, they block-booked rooms for hospital staff at a reduced rate. Then, with the help of a donation from Celtic FC Foundation, they set to work making meals for them. It’s just like neighbours helping each other – it’s a nice position for us to be in. just before lockdown, the couple have worked tirelessly to help the local community – from giving away scarce supplies such as yeast and grow bags to the elderly, to donating to the food bank. “If all it takes is for me to buy yeast by the kilo, bag it up and hand it out, it makes things better,” he says. “If someone hands over a little bit of yeast to their elderly neighbour, that’s only a good thing, isn’t it?” Although he’s modest about his generosity, Pratik, who usually runs the city’s Lilu restaurant, has helped many vulnerable people by doing deliveries – and sourced everything from Bird’s Trifle Mix to posh pork pies for customers. His day starts at 4am, and when the shop closes dad Jayendra comes in to tidy up. “You’re not a shop, or even a business – to me, as a cornershop you are a service provider,” Pratik adds. “That service is all the more needed at a time like this.” How we wheeled out hundreds of Bromptons
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