STARS from screen and sport are among those backing a huge fundraising effort aiming to keep a luxury sleeper bus for frontline NHS workers on Teesside.

Peaky Blinders actress Charlotte Riley, from Stockton and married to Hollywood actor Tom Hardy, TV presenter Steph McGovern, Mayor of the Tees Valley Ben Houchen and Middlesbrough FC have got behind the push.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust need around £500 a day to keep a valuable state-of-the-art sleeper bus donated by Vans for Bands on site for doctors and nurses to use as rest facilities during the Covid-19 crisis.

The Northern Echo:

Dr Paul Williams, the former Labour MP for Stockton South who has returned to NHS service, is behind Sleep4Heroes and three local Teesside businessmen, Nick Waites, Karl Pemberton and Martyn Pullin, have united behind him to help the fundraising push along with the assistance of Cornerstone Marketing.

Dr Williams, speaking in a promotional video, said: “There are many staff who carry on working tonight, tomorrow, 24 hours a day, looking after some of the sickest people with coronavirus.

“Staff are allowed to use the bus for relaxation, a rest, during their busy shifts. It is a wonderful gesture but there are costs associated with it.

“During this time, having a place for these hardworking people, particularly those working in intensive care, to be able to relax and get their head down for a bit is really useful.

“If you can help support the charitable fund then we would be very grateful for your donation.”

The Northern Echo:

Mayor Houchen said: “Sleep 4 Heroes is a fantastic local charity that has been set up to provide respite for staff coming off long shifts who perhaps live too far away to travel home.

"They are using a tour bus, parked outside North Tees hospital, which is usually reserved for travelling bands and musicians, to provide staff with somewhere to sleep and shower. This is allowing them to continue providing us all with amazing care in such a difficult time.

“This does come with running costs and they need your help. We have fantastic community spirit here in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool so please give what you can to help our own.

“Last night, like lots of people across the Tees Valley, I was outside showing my appreciation for our amazing NHS workers. But by helping this charity, we can do something that will be of even more benefit to the health workers right here in our region who are looking after our families, friends and neighbours.”

The North Tees Sleep4Heroes campaign is hoping to raise enough money to fund the bus - usually used by stars of music when they tour Europe - for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.

Mr Waites said: “We are looking to raise as much as possible to enable North Tees Hospital to operate the bus without any cost to themselves.

“Whether that be a daily contribution of £5 in lieu of a couple of cups of cappuccino that you’re no longer having, £50 per week in lieu of filling your car with fuel, or a one-off donation no matter how large or small, it will all help.

“We dream of a situation where we can get 100 people to pledge the equivalent of just £5 a day payable on a monthly basis but even a £1 a day topped up with some one-off donations will enable us to achieve our goal.

“While there is a national fundraising effort for the sleeper buses, we are keen to make sure we do what we can do make sure NHS staff closer to home receive a helping hand financially.”

The North Tees Sleep4Heroes has already had contact with numerous familiar names and it wants to secure further help from across the region and beyond.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust was the first in the area to be handed one of the sleeper buses.

It is part of a fleet of luxury vehicles usually used by rock and pop stars which are currently parked outside NHS hospitals across the UK as well as at the University Hospital of North Tees.

To get behind the fundraising effort check out the North Tees Sleep4Heroes page on Just Giving

There are pages on Facebook and Twitter to check on progress too.