On Saturday, 26th September, Leeds Castle closed its doors to the general public and opened them exclusively to local NHS workers and their families to support them in the incredible work they have been doing this year in the fight against COVID-19. The Leeds Castle Foundation and the local NHS combined to provide a special wellbeing day which was attended by over 1,000 visitors from NHS organisations in Kent and Medway.
The NHS staff, who applied for tickets through an internal ballot, and their families were treated to a host of events and activities across the day, as well as being able to explore beautiful the grounds at their leisure. It began with Rainbow Selfies along Main Drive and a special meet and greet from Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn at the Gatehouse, along with regular performances from The Rig – a musical installation made of pots and pans, which was a special nod back to the Thursday NHS Thank You clap. There were also family games in the Old Vineyard, children’s trails around the grounds and Castle as well as ‘Get Into Golf’ sessions with PGA professionals from the Leeds Castle Golf Club.
All visitors received goody bag on arrival which included a voucher for a free round of adventure golf and free pizza from the Stable Yard Café. They were also given 25% discount in all food and retail outlets on site. In order to continue the relationship, Leeds Castle will also offer a 20% discount for all NHS and Care staff and their families into the future which will sit alongside current offers for blue light and emergency service employees. A special Leeds Castle rainbow t-shirt has also been commissioned and is now available to buy from the Park Shop with a percentage of the sales going towards NHS charities so they can continue to be supported.
Leeds Castle Chairman Niall Dickson said:
“It has been a such a privilege to welcome over 1,000 NHS staff and their families and to see so many smiling faces. In these difficult times Leeds Castle and its beautiful grounds are a safe haven where the people of Kent can come and escape from the pressures of life.
As a charity we rely on our visitors to enable us to protect and preserve this wonderful place for this and future generations, and we very much hope to welcome back many of today’s guests.
We already have a discount scheme for staff working in the emergency services and I am delighted to be able to say we will now be extending that to all NHS and care staff in the county. We’ll be releasing details shortly.
And I want to pay tribute to our staff too who have generously given their time for free today as a mark of their appreciation of all the NHS has done and what it will face in the coming months.”
As Leeds Castle Foundation is a registered charity which relies on visitors to fund its upkeep, this event could not have been put on without the support of some very generous suppliers. The RA Group, BISON, Cliffe Enterprise, Tugo, KP Snacks, Tony’s Chocolate, Judge Sampson souvenirs, Cotswold Lavender toiletries, St Nicolas decorations, Bon Bons confectionery, Gisela Graham decorations, Medevent Medical Services and The Rig were all instrumental in ensuring that the NHS staff and their families were able to put COVID-19 to one side for a day and focus on enjoying some quality time together.