Established as a token of the nation’s appreciation of the frontline staff working tirelessly on our behalf, Help Our Frontline was founded by Liam Gallagher’s Tour Manager, Ben Pomphrett, to harness the skills of the events and music industry in the fight against COVID-19. This includes providing sustenance and essential supplies to those who need it most, through a combination of fundraising and donations, in association with the Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice and Myton Hospices.
The last time Pomphrett graced the pages of TPi was during our coverage of Liam Gallagher’s latest arena tour when we were acquainted with the rest of the production team and their beer-proof consoles at the M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool. Since then, the effects of a global pandemic have grounded all live music and events spaces across the globe – including Pomphrett’s final batch of European touring with LG. “Liam’s Production Manager, David Murphy and I are both in relationships with nurses,” stated Pomphrett. “Mine in particular is an intensive care nurse, so we have a solid understanding of what those on the frontline are experiencing.”
The idea behind Help Our Frontline arose when Pomphrett’s partner, who was on maternity leave at the time, was having conversations with colleagues about how things were getting tighter at work. “Restrictions were being put in place for people visiting. I recognised that nurses, and the NHS, were going to be in for a tough time ahead,” Pomphrett explained. “Units often receive donations of cakes and treats from patients’ families, which make for more enjoyable breaks, and I could see that was something that might fall by the wayside.” Pomphrett set out to, first and foremost, assist the unit his partner works in, as well as NHS units across Glasgow. “It was something that I could apply my newfound time off towards,” he explained.
One of the initial contacts the TM made was with Lomond Wholesale, based in Glasgow. “They are still operating, albeit not at full capacity, delivering to hospitals. They also own a wholesale bakery, which provides to the UK, so we initially sent out heart-shaped biscuits to over 20 NHS critical care units across Scotland,” Pomphrett said. “The biscuits were about to go to waste, and the design of the cakes also served to convey everyone’s admiration for the frontline staff.”
After connecting with businesses in the food and drink sector, Help Our Frontline received its first donation of toiletries, which were delivered to units across Glasgow. “We sent out over 2,000 cakes to local care units around Scotland, as a trial and barometer, to see how the logistics and distribution side of things worked,” Pomphrett furthered. “It was an amazing coincidence of looking for help from other industries, who have been incredibly forthcoming and generous in donating food and resources, while I deal with the logistics.”
Pomphrett recalled the rallying cry of the events and music industry, as offers from various touring crew flooded in overnight. “After tentatively looking for some help on social media, I found the response to be unsurprisingly positive. I have always found that touring crew are up for lending a hand,” he stated. “After connecting with a few food and drink distributors, I discovered that not only could Scotland be covered, but the entire United Kingdom. It was just a case of doing my homework and ironing out some details.”
Pomphrett approached the task as he would advancing a tour. “I’m sure a lot of other tour managers will identify themselves as perfectionists, because when you find yourself with nothing to do, you begin pacing or looking for projects to work on,” he laughed.
The TM was also fortunate enough to receive help from contacts he has made over the past few years touring. “It’s built up over the past few weeks, and now I’m getting help from a variety of friends, colleagues and strangers who are willing to help out for those on the frontline.”
He went on to explain how Help Our Frontline was now working closely with hotel partners across the country to provide home comforts to patients. “The travel industry is closely connected to music, so I’ve partnered with hotels to ensure their suppliers can deliver toiletries to hospitals.” Pomphrett said his plan is to send out as many care packages to as many units and staff as possible, with a mixture of sustenance – food, drink and snacks – as well as toiletries and essential supplies, “to hopefully make their time working a little bit better”.
With things moving quickly, Pomphrett was forced to accelerate his initial timeline, seeking donations from artists for fundraising and prize raffles. “We ran a raffle with artists from across the musical spectrum such as Liam Gallagher, Lewis Capaldi, The Chemical Brothers, Simple Minds and Simply Red,” the TM furthered. “We’ve cast the net wide to receive everything from signed instruments to test pressings and record rarities, merchandise bundles, meet and greets, gig tickets, and more to engage with the fans – all to raise money for a good cause.”
There are various ways to support Help Our Frontline. If you would like to collaborate or provide supplies to be included in frontline staff care packages, visit: www.helpfrontline.co.uk