A former Welsh soldier has dedicated lockdown to helping deliver a morale boost for those working in the frontline to keep us all safe.
Lee West served as a Royal Marine Commando for 17 years before leaving the forces last February, serving four tours of Iraq and Afghanistan before being medically retired as a result of bilateral hearing loss.
He wrote a book about his experience, and has also written three books about being homeless by choice, in order to highlight awareness of homelessness in the local community and wider area.
Mr West bought Copper Bar in Castle Street, Swansea from Boss Brewery in August 2019, and through his experiences seeing the plight of the homeless first hand, decided to start a ‘pay it forward’ initiative which saw customers pay for a hot meal like a pizza or a drink, which Mr West would then make and deliver personally to homeless people in Swansea.
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That continued until the coronavirus pandemic began in March last year. The premises were forced to close as a result of lockdown measures, and Swansea Council helped find accommodation and support for the city’s homeless.
Mr West decided to divert his help to the frontline workers such as the NHS and emergency service workers to name a few, along with people who have found themselves in isolation, such as those who were caught up in the Skewen flooding.
The 42-year-old, of Brynhyfryd, did almost daily drops of pizzas, soft drinks and food to local NHS hospitals, testing centres, medical surgeries and more in order to boost morale and show appreciation for those in the frontline.
He initially paid for the food drops out of his own pocket for some time, before being awarded some Lottery funding, first awarded to charity Salute then awarded to him when they heard about the incredible work he was doing.
An amazing £20,000 worth of food aid has been given out to date.
Describing his motivation to step in and help out, Mr West explained: “In the Marines I didn’t really have much dealings with the NHS, all I know is treatment through the military – I’ve never had any long term illness or anything like that.
“Since leaving I have been to hospital a couple of times and I am so impressed about the job they do. My mother worked for the NHS for decades and experienced it. I know the strain they are under and I thought it was important to help give a morale boost.”
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He added: “Since I started there has been £20,000 of food aid that has gone out.
“It is not just the NHS, we have been supporting all key workers and people in isolated situations. If someone wants to nominate a binman who deserves a treat, they can do.”
Mr West is looking for any donations or support in order to continue the NHS food drops. If you wish to donate, visit the Copper Bar Facebook page for more information by clicking here.