In a world turned upside down, I had to try to protect our NHS heroes by providing PPE for frontline workers
4th June 2020

AS life ebbed from Alan McGahan’s coronavirus-ravaged body, his son Matt could only watch helplessly via Skype.

In those final, tormented hours that father and son shared together, Matt was aghast that some of the hospital medics treating Alan appeared to have inadequate personal protective clothing (PPE).

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Choking back tears, Matt told The Sun: “I said to one of the nurses, ‘You’re not wearing the correct PPE’.

“She said, ‘This is what we have. We make do. Someone has got to be here holding peoples’ hands as they die’.

“They had three-ply paper masks which looked days old and gloves like those from a petrol station. There was no full virus suit or goggles.

“When I asked if they were scared of catching the virus, they answered, ‘Either we have had it, got it, will get it, or we are immune’.

“One nurse even gave a colleague the mask she was wearing as she went off to the intensive care unit.

“My dad’s nurses and doctors weren’t equipped properly with PPE.”

Recounting his final interaction with car and property businessman Alan, 75, Matt, 41, said: “The last time I called dad he answered. I could hear him breathing but he did not speak to me.

“I told him I loved him and I was going to get him home. That was the last time I spoke to him.”


Shortly after grandfather-of-two Alan’s final moments, Matt resolved to start a charity providing PPE for hospital staff, care home employees and other frontline workers, enlisting his actor pal Tamer Hassan to help.

Tamer, 52, who has appeared in Game Of Thrones and EastEnders, said: “With almost his last breath Alan said to Matt of the doctors and nurses, ‘You need to help these people’.

“So I resolved to help honour Alan and the front- line workers who are risking their lives to save others.”

The charity, Mask Our Heroes, aims to raise £1million and has already had £120,000 pledged on a Go Fund Me page since Alan’s death on March 30.

Entrepreneur Matt, from Caterham, Surrey, added: “Tamer told me, ‘If you get the PPE into the UK, I will get in my car and deliver it’.

“I have good business connections in China and we have been able to get the PPE to frontline workers.”

Tamer has been delivering thousands of pieces of equipment to hospitals and care homes alongside Calum Best and ex-Premier League star Jimmy Bullard.

Recipients include care homes in Windsor, Southampton, Maidenhead, Lancashire and London’s Royal Marsden Hospital.

The charity has raised awareness through the Upside Down Challenge, which has seen I’m A Celebrity winner Georgia Toffolo, Girl’s Aloud star Kimberley Walsh, Little Mix’s Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Made In Chelsea’s Binky Felstead posting videos on social media of them doing headstands.


Matt was on a business trip to Dubai when Alan fell ill with Covid-19 — but the airport closed so he was unable to get a flight back.

The dad-of-two said: “To be separated from your loved ones when they are dying alone in hospital was unthinkable only a few weeks ago.

“The total helplessness is a feeling I have never experienced before.

“For any family that has to go through what we have just gone through is just harrowing and cruel.

“Dad put up a terrific battle. He was my best mate and business partner.

"I have nothing but total admiration for the team of nurses and doctors that looked after my father. They are some of the most dedicated and com- mitted people one could ever imagine meeting.

“The catalyst for this was Dad and his nurses, but it is clear that many other frontline workers, from bus drivers to supermarket staff, also fall into the high-risk category and don’t have adequate PPE.

The total helplessness is a feeling I have never experienced before.

Matt said: “This is a virus, and any public worker should have proper protective clothing.”

Matt and Tamer say they have delivered more than 100,000 pieces of PPE and want the charity to continue after coronavirus is defeated.

Staff working within two metres of a confirmed or suspected Covid-19 patient are advised to wear an apron, gloves, surgical mask and eye protection.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said billions of items of PPE are needed each month.

But the pandemic has seen global demand skyrocket, with some countries even slapping export bans on it.

Matt added: “Our aim is to build an international, fast-response charity so we can build a stockpile of PPE.

“We have secured permanent lines in two factories as well as manufacturing our own brand of masks in Southampton.

"This will help ensure that if anything like this happens again there is at least one charity that can supply properly manufactured PPE straight away.”

Mask Our Heroes is seeking more corporate sponsors, donors and fundraisers.

Matt added: “We expect our loved ones to be looked after when they are in hospital. We expect them to get the best care.

“At this terrible time the least we can do is make sure these dedicated boys and girls are properly protected.

“Losing my father was all the motivation I needed to set up this charity.

“Please give generously and help us get the right PPE to those that deserve it.”

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