Ahead of the NHS’s 72nd birthday celebrations, the AELTC is saying thank you with a donation of 200 punnets of Wimbledon strawberries per day to NHS staff and frontline workers in London.
Since the cancellation of The Championships, we have been very focused on doing what we can to help those in our local community who are undergoing hardship as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Richard Lewis CBE, AELTC Chief Executive
The donations, part of the AELTC’s broader contributions to the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, are a small gesture of appreciation for the dedicated service of the NHS during what would have been The Championships Fortnight.
More than 26,000 strawberries, which would have been used for The Championships 2020, are being hulled and portioned by a group of AELTC staff.
Richard Lewis CBE, AELTC Chief Executive, said: “Since the cancellation of The Championships, we have been very focused on doing what we can to help those in our local community who are undergoing hardship as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
“Our staff have been particularly keen to do what they can to help during this time and we were pleased that so many of them volunteered to take part in the strawberry hulling operation during the Wimbledon Fortnight.
“We would like to extend our thanks once more to Food & Drink at Wimbledon, our year-round catering partner, and City Harvest, our distribution partner, as we work with them to play a small part in helping our community through this time of crisis.”
Amerjit Chohan, CEO of St George’s Hospital Charity, recipient of the first strawberry delivery on Monday 29 June, said: “St George’s Hospital Charity would very much like to thank The All England Lawn Tennis Club for their generous donation of the famous Wimbledon strawberries.
“It was a lovely surprise gesture and a great token of appreciation for our amazing NHS staff who have been working tirelessly during this crisis.”
Marion Regan, Managing Director of Hugh Lowe Farms, said: “We are delighted that some of our strawberries will bring a taste of Wimbledon to the key workers at organisations such as St George’s Hospital Charity who have worked so hard over the past few months.
“Although we are sad not to be sending the usual amount to The Championships, people are eating more strawberries at home and we have found extra sales through local farm shops, box schemes and the major retailers.”
Traditionally, Wimbledon-goers get through an average of 122,000 punnets of strawberries each year, and after a mild winter and warm summer, the fruit is experiencing a bumper crop that only comes around once in a while.
Hugh Lowe farms is a family owned business with a remarkable 100-year heritage that has been producing strawberries for Wimbledon for the past 25 years.
Following the cancellation of most of the UK’s summer events, this year, the fate of 28,000kg of British strawberries hangs in the balance, with Wimbledon facing almost half a million pounds in lost revenue from strawberries and cream sales alone.
“Wimbledon strawberries certainly have their own requirements,” says Regan.
“We only supply the tournament with Class I strawberries after they have been checked for weight and quality.
“After they’ve been packed up, delivered in their Wimbledon purple and green punnets, and topped off with sugar and fresh cream, there isn’t much that beats these berries on a summer’s day.”