Ex McLaren boss Dennis sets up free meals for health workers scheme

London (AFP) –


Former McLaren supremo Ron Dennis has created a scheme to supply a million free meals to workers in Britain's National Health Service during the coronavirus outbreak.

Dennis said Monday his foundation would provide a budget of 1.5 million pounds ($1.8 million, 1.7 million euros) after linking up with other organisations with the aim of supplying 1,000 meals a day to health workers.

"I wanted a big solution to a big problem," Dennis told the BBC.

"It is an amazing effort, which I think is reflective of my reputation. If I say I'm going to do something I do it."

The 72-year-old was inspired to act after a meeting with his family.

His daughter, Dr Charlotte Hall, added: "We were talking about how, we as a charity, could help everyone in the current coronavirus crisis.

"We can't help medically but we could perhaps make the situation just a bit more bearable -- being in the hospital, taking away the stress of getting food, having something hot and nutritious to eat or having something to look forward to when you get home.

"I never doubted him. We know he would rise to the challenge and he certainly has."

Dennis said the "real breakthrough" came when the chief executive of leading UK supermarket chain Tesco told him "we're behind you".

"We had great logistics in place but we needed volume," Dennis added.

"We now have volume and as we speak we are ramping up...We're looking at 1,000 meals a day. It will be challenging, but we will get there."

Dennis's initiative is the latest of several moves by Grand Prix figures to help support efforts combating the spread of COVID-19.

Several British-based teams are involved in plans to increase ventilator capacity, while last month the Agnelli family that controls Fiat and Formula One giants Ferrari donated 10 million euros to the Italian government to support the fight against the coronavirus.

Dennis, however, warned the greatest impact of COVID-19 would be felt well beyond Europe.

"The real loss of life is going to come in the townships, the favelas (of South America), central Africa, where there is no running water, no chance (for people) to wash their hands.

"The only thing that is going to stop this waving across the world and causing phenomenal loss of life is a vaccine.

"We are (in danger) of seeing the biggest lost of life this world has ever seen...This is a long, long way from being over."