LUXURY tour buses, previously used by stars such as Ricky Gervais, Peter Kay, Will Smith and Paul Weller, have been loaned to the NHS to accommodate frontline medical staff.
Vans for Bands, based at Begbroke, has loaned its entire fleet of of sleeper coaches to the NHS, to house employees treating coronavirus patients. The buses can be parked outside hospitals providing spaces for health workers to rest and take stock during their rest break or at the end of each shift.
They are being used at The Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, and Hillingdon, Whittington and Lewisham hospitals in London.
The buses are primarily used by artist and bands touring the UK and Europe, and have also been used by rocker Alice Cooper and bands Elbow, Blossoms, Biffy Clyro, Primal Scream, Libertines, Massive Attack and Leftfield.
Read more: Pub closed by lockdown re-opens as community shop with free deliveries
The company has offered them to any hospital in the UK that needs them, for the duration of the current crisis.
Vans For Bands who are subsidising the project has a JustGiving page (justgiving.com/crowdfunding/vans-for-bands) to cover the costs of keeping the fleet on site at the hospitals.
Director Ed Thomson said: “The social gathering restrictions brought about by Covid-19 have completely decimated the live music industry resulting in our entire fleet being off hire and returned to our yard.
“We are very happy to be able to offer our tour buses to NHS hospitals anywhere in the UK for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis as a place for doctors, nurses and support staff to take a rest or sleep in at the end of or during their extended shifts. We feel it’s only right that we all do everything we can to support our NHS.”
He added: “We did approach the John Radcliffe Hospital but they do not have any requirement for a sleeper bus at the moment.”
Oxford’s Tarrant Anderson is a business partner and plays with Frank Turner’s band
The project is supported by musician Frank Turner and former doctor and comedy writer Adam Kay.
Mr Kay, author of This is Going to Hurt said: “In these bleak days, it’s been truly heartwarming to see such an outpouring of love for the NHS.
“This is a wonderful example of a business stepping up to support frontline staff. I know so many doctors and nurses who have been struggling to find accommodation or somewhere to relax during their shift breaks and this will make a huge difference.”
Mr Turner, whose live band The Sleeping Souls, includes Oxford artists Ben Lloyd, Tarrant Anderson and Nigel Powell, says: “I’m happy and proud to see my friends at Vans For Bands putting their fleet to good use in this trying time.
Blossoms with one of the firm’s buses
“I have spent years of my life sleeping on these buses all around the UK and Europe; now they can be used to help the amazing frontline NHS staff during the crisis, who are working hard and taking risks for us all.”
A spokesperson for The Royal Berkshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “We have a number of options of accommodation for staff and it’s great to be able to add the buses to our offer.
“A huge thanks to Vans for Bands for stepping up with a unique solution that can be parked on site for staff to rest and relax in for a few hours or overnight.”