VOLUNTEERS dedicated to supporting Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals have begun a second round of fundraising after securing donations of £8,000 from their initial efforts.

Anita Karppi, husband Kristian and 11-year-old daughter Eva set up a website at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis last March to capture local support for the NHS.

They closed the first round just before Christmas and the recently reopened appeal has already attracted almost £2,000.

“I just wanted to do something quickly,” Anita said. “I don’t work in the medical field, I work in finance, and that’s what really set me off.

“I had a contact in the Hong Kong stock exchange who told me about the virus in that part of the world and I could see it wasn’t going to go away. I knew I had to do something.

“We’re not fundraisers, my husband and myself, but we set up the website pretty much overnight and we knew we wanted to help the NHS and at the same time stay local. That’s why we decided to concentrate on Ashford & St Peter’s.

“It seems a long time ago now, but there was no vaccine then and it just seemed like a long tunnel ahead of us.”

Their efforts have so far helped to deliver almost 2,900 items of medical PPE, including intubation shields, visors, reusable shoe covers and high-quality reusable scrubs; more than 1,800 dry food and drink items; and 800 self-care packages.

“In the first lockdown, shortages of PPE was the big thing, so we had to find credible sources of the equipment. We had to deliver quality, there was a lot at stake,” said Anita.

Although the demand for PPE remains, Anita is keen to deliver more personal items.

“I wanted staff to have something for when they came off shifts. Refreshments, snacks, biscuits, but everything must be individually packed. You can’t buy a big packet of biscuits because too many people would touch it. Things you once took for granted you really have to think about now.

“We’ve had great support from some big companies, including Kellogg’s and Mondi, but I’d love more local businesses to join the ones who’ve already helped us.”

Anita, though, prefers to play down her part in the initiative.

“If I’ve brought any skill at all to this, I suppose it’s an ability to organise, to drive a good deal and to cope with pressure.

“Kristian has been a great help, and Eva has been brilliant helping me to pack everything. We pack it all ourselves at home.

“It’s important for her to be involved, to try to understand the world and how we can all help.

“But it’s not about us, it’s about the NHS. Every penny we raise goes to them, they’re the heroes.

“We have items to buy, so as long people keep donating, we’ll keep delivering.”

Karen Uttley, assistant director in HR, overseeing the donations at Ashford and St Peter’s, said: “On behalf of all of Team ASPH, I’d like to thank Anita for the ongoing support we have received from Help Your NHS throughout this pandemic.

“We are extremely grateful for the kindness and generosity we have received from our local community throughout this challenging time and the staff have really appreciated the food, drink and supplies that Anita has sourced and delivered to us.”

For more information or to donate, visit www.helpyournhs.co.uk,  www.justgiving.com and search for asphround2, or Facebook @helpyournhs.