Burnley offer facilities to NHS as sport’s goodwill gestures continue

Athletes, clubs and sport personalities have been reaching out to vulnerable members of the public, their fan bases and colleagues during the coronavirus pandemic.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the sporting goodwill stories to emerge on March 31.

Football

Burnley have announced they will be making facilities available to the NHS.

The club said parts of their Turf Moor home, starting with the Elite Training Centre adjacent to the stadium, will be opened to the East Lancashire Hospital Trust to help it deal with any necessary extra hospital capacity.

The Clarets also said they would be following Brighton’s lead in pledging to offer free tickets for NHS staff for future matches, “with plans being formed to recognise and reward the contribution of NHS workers in our region when football is again being played”.

Burnley chief executive Neil Hart said in a statement on the club’s website: “The safety and well-being of everyone in our area is our primary concern. To that end, we will willingly allow the Trust to utilise facilities at Turf Moor to help manage their demand in any way we can.

“Beyond that, when football resumes we will be paying our own tribute and saying thanks to the key workers of the NHS for the incredible jobs they are doing.

“Final plans will need to be determined around a restart of the game but we will be hosting a day of full engagement and participation for NHS employees on a match-day in the future.”

Rugby union

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend, plus his counterparts at Glasgow and Edinburgh, Dave Rennie and Richard Cockerill, and Scottish Rugby Union performance director Jim Mallinder have each agreed to a 25 per cent deferral.

SRU chief executive Dodson will defer 30 per cent of his wages from April 1 through to September 1.

The decision was taken during a conference call last Friday, when the SRU’s executive and non-executive directors also agreed to a 25 per cent deferral.

England Rugby has invited schoolchildren to the ‘School of Ruck’, offering free resource packs for those between the ages of five and 11.

The packs, launched with the help of the World Rugby Museum, provide activities to support home education during the coronavirus pandemic as well as content for teachers looking after the children of key workers.

All activities will meet the national curriculum standards and fall in line with the new Ofsted framework. The packs will be issued every Monday on the World Rugby Museum website.

World Rugby Museum education officer Ben Venus said: “At a time when parents across the country are adapting to home schooling, we thought we could give them a helping hand and offer a variety of easy-to-follow, fun activities for children to get involved in.

“We hope they enjoy taking part and don’t forget to check in each week for a brand new, rugby-themed pack.”

Cricket

Kent and England batsman Sam Billings had a close shave to raise funds for the NHS.

Billings had his head shaved as he took part in a national challenge #ShaveDonateNominate which has already raised more than £13,000.

The 28-year-old posted a picture of David Beckham in response to a suggestion that he now resembled Tottenham and England midfielder Eric Dier.

Former South Africa batsman Herschelle Gibbs replied to say “Keep it that way mate”, while Kent head coach Matthew Walker tweeted “if you knew how important his hair is to him then you’ll understand this was a BIG gesture!”

Motor racing

Spanish racing driver Fernando Alonso has donated thousands of masks and protective suits via Unicef for those in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

Alonso thanked Unicef for their “tireless work” on his personal Twitter account and encouraged people to visit the organisation’s website and offer their support.

Mercedes-AGM F1 engineering will be helping to keep coronavirus patients out of intensive care with a breathing aid approved for use in the NHS.

The breathing aid, known as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), has been used extensively in hospitals in Italy and China to help Covid-19 patients with serious lung infections to breathe more easily, when oxygen alone is insufficient.

It took fewer than 100 hours from the initial meeting to production of the first device.

Some 100 devices are to be delivered to University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for clinical trials, with rapid roll-out to hospitals nationwide ahead of the predicted surge in Covid-19 admissions.

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