Businessman Yousuf Bhaliok pledged £200,000 to help provide food and essential equipment to NHS staff during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak and then called on fellow Prestonians to help bring that total to £1m.
NHS chiefs say the Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Charity has been overwhelmed by donations and offers of support so far.
Karen Partington, the chief executive at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are so grateful to Mr Bhailok and the wider Muslim community in Preston for their generosity and support in setting up this funding drive.
“These donations and offers of help will go a very long way in ensuring our staff are able to continue providing outstanding care during this challenging time.
“We are overwhelmed by the target, the ambition and the kindness shown by everyone involved, and their help is truly invaluable.”
Yousuf pledged £100,000, in addition to another private donation of £100,000, in a video he posted on Facebook over the weekend. He added that he would also make his BHS store in Fishergate available for storing, collecting and distributing food and equipment.
In a second video posted on Facebook yesterday, Yousuf said: “What I saw in the media was the tremendous effort worldwide made by the doctors, nurses and front line staff.
“Our government is doing everything it can to provide them with resources but locally we must do what we can and give them the discretion to get whatever they need.
“It is sad to see that throughout the world, this disease has spread and now the epicentre is Italy, Spain, France and the UK, and these people will be putting their lives at risk for us.
“We are proud of the NHS and we are proud of our staff, front line workers and emergency workers. So let’s show our support to them by donating whatever we can – even £1 will show them we support them locally.”
He adds that he hopes every town will do the same to help provide their own local NHS workers with essential protective equipment.