Community: Watford Businesses Rally To Support Key Workers

By: Watford FC Staff

As well as hosting The Sanctuary for NHS staff, Vicarage Road Stadium this month has acted as a staging ground for the delivery of generous donations from local businesses to key frontline workers.

Pallets upon pallets of bottled water, coffee, snacks and PPE have been charitably delivered to the stadium’s concourse and subsequently distributed to staff at Watford General Hospital and associated organisations, thanks to the coordination of key stakeholders in the town’s business scene.

“At the Chamber of Commerce, we have a philosophy called the Chamber of Conscience, which is basically just a network of good-willed people doing nice things,” said Chris Luff, CEO of Watford Chamber of Commerce, lifelong Hornets supporter and member of the club's Board of Trustees.

“The virus hit Watford, like everywhere else, as a bolt from the blue. We were not surprised by the amazing response from our members when asked if they could help, we were however overwhelmed by the energy and generosity in donating money, time, materials and produce, regardless of their own obvious difficult agendas.

“Connecting with Robert Voss HM Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, our Chamber of Conscience ‘Network of Goodwill’ was able to provide quick and effective support, primarily to local hospitals and hospices, as the virus spread, and lockdown took hold.”

The overwhelming response included more than 15,000 bottles of water being supplied for hospital staff, 12 pallets of food donated by Nestlé and 15,000 donuts provided by Wenzels (and delivered to NHS staff each morning by Chris and his cousin Matt – they’ve now been nicknamed the ‘Donut Brothers’). The sheer volume of donations meant Chris and his team needed storage space, and that’s when he turned to the club for help.

“I’ve been coming to watch Watford since I was about 12, and that’s about 40 years!” said Chris. “I think I started coming in 1976. I lived in Hatch End and my mum and dad wouldn’t let me go to London to watch football, so I used to get the train from Hatch End to Vicarage Road.

“I’d like to say a massive thank you to Ian Pope [Head of Facilities at Watford FC], he’s a no-nonsense and get-it-done man, and all of his team have been amazing. When I landed it on him that I was having a delivery the next day, and I didn’t realise how much was coming, I had to ring up Ian and nothing was too much trouble for him, he’s been brilliant. It was less than four days between contacting Nestlé and the pallets arriving, and then we got it out to the hospices within two days.”

As well as donating their own products, local businesses have chipped in financially to make a statement of gratitude to the NHS staff. Chris and Aga Dychton, Watford Council’s Deputy Chairman, teamed up to create and install an enormous banner which is now displayed at the hospital to remind the key workers that everyone in the town admires and supports them.

“I called several members, explained the concept and within hours we had raised the necessary funds to install a permanent structure to display our appreciation for all the key workers and NHS teams that are serving our community,” said Chris.

“The support and generosity from our local business community has been quite simply remarkable and I believe should not go unnoticed. So rather than naming a list of companies in a newspaper report we have teamed up with The Electric Umbrella and local filmmakers, Think About It Films, to virtually fly us around Watford, with a smile dropping in on our business heroes as a way to say ‘thank you’ to them. They know who they are and soon you will too.”

The support and generosity from our local business community has been quite simply remarkable and I believe should not go unnoticed.
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