Actor Tamer Hassan has called for urgent donations of personal protective equipment (PPE), saying that NHS staff remain “desperate” for supplies.
The Football Factor star, 52, is a founding member of Mask Our Heroes, set up by entrepreneur Matthew McGahan, a close friend, after his father Alan died with Covid-19 on March 30.
The fundraising initiative has so far donated more than 70,000 protective suits, masks and visors to hospitals across the UK.
It welcomed a £30,000 donation from supply chain specialists Ligentia this month, so far raising a total of about £120,000 via GoFundMe.
Hassan, whose aunt recently died with the virus, has been driving PPE to hospitals five or six days a week.
He told the PA news agency: “You hear all this stuff on the news and you hear Boris Johnson talking his jargon and everyone talking.
“Until you are there on the front line and delivering this stuff, and Matthew has had experience of that, you will not grasp the reality and concept of how desperate they are.”
Speaking about his aunt’s death, he added: “Until everybody started getting touched by a loss, that’s only when people started believing this is there and this is real, which is quite sad
“It’s terrible to sit here and say we only started understanding how severe this pandemic and virus was until we lost people.
“But sometimes we have to lose someone to understand that something is real.”
Hassan, whose daughter Belle appeared on ITV’s Love Island, said he had also wanted to pay tribute to Mr McGahan’s father.
Speaking about his motivations, he said: “Let’s first and foremost keep the great man’s name alive and let’s do this in honour of that man because of how brave he was and what his last wishes were.
“Second to that, it’s ‘Are kidding me?’
“These people are our soldiers, our frontline heroes, our angels without wings. It was totally enough.
“The Government is sending soldiers into war without a bullet proof vest and a gun that’s not loaded.”
Hassan helped encourage support from famous faces including Irvine Welsh, Calum Best and comedian Dapper Laughs among others.
Mr McGahan restated the importance of the public wearing masks as lockdown measures are eased.
He said: “We now have got the suppliers – we have got the lines sorted – everybody needs the opportunity to buy a proper mask, everybody should be able to buy a proper mask.
“What with the wonderful weather, the issues on the beaches a couple of weeks ago, the demonstrations over the last seven or eight days, if we ever needed masks, it’s now.”
McGahan has also started the “upside-down challenge” on social media to raise awareness of his charity.
The challenge has seen people posting photos of themselves upside-down, with Hassan and footballer Jimmy Bullard among those taking part.