Coronavirus in Hampstead: Royal Free volunteer thanks ‘heroes’ who saved her from virus as free ‘supermarket’ opens

Shiva Bernheim with therapy dog Rolo. Picture: Royal Free London

Shiva Bernheim with therapy dog Rolo. Picture: Royal Free London - Credit: Archant

A Royal Free Hospital volunteer has thanked her “heroes” on the hospital staff after recovering from the coronavirus, while the free supermarket for staff there is up and running – and asking for more donations.

The Free @ The Royal Free staff 'shop'. Picture: Royal Free London

The Free @ The Royal Free staff 'shop'. Picture: Royal Free London - Credit: Archant

Last week the Royal Free Charity launched an emergency fundraising campaign to raise money to help look after staff amid the crisis.

The Royal Free Rec Club, part of the charity, has been transformed with staple foods and items like deodorant and soap freely available for staff.

Called Free @ The Royal Free, the supermarket first opened on Friday morning.

Meanwhile, for charity volunteer Shiva Bernheim, who previously regularly visited the Royal Free’s wards with her therapy dog Rolo, said the hospital’s staff were incredible during her at times “touch and go” brush with Covid-19. Shiva, 61, has now recovered and is in isolation, but contracted the virus following a trip to Switzerland.

The Hampstead woman said: “They are all my heroes. Professor Lamb, James and Will and Michelle. I only remember a few names but I will never forget any of them. The way they laid their lives on the line for me was unbelievable.”

Kelly Rush, who manages the Rec Club – usually a fitness centre – paid tribute to an “incredible response” from local and national companies, adding: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the fantastic donations but we definitely do need more to keep coming in each and every day.”

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The fundraising drive, which is going to support both the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead and its sister sites in Barnet and Chase Farm, continues.

Judy Dewinter, chair of the Royal Free Charity, said: “The dedication being shown by staff in the response to COVID-19 is remarkable, and we are listening carefully to what matters to staff.

“They are putting their patients first and this is a real opportunity for us to help them to take care of themselves and their families. Seeing staff leave [the free supermarket] with a full bag and a smile on their face is absolutely fantastic.”

Can you help? Details of how to donate to the Royal Free Charity’s Covid-19 Emergency Fund can be found at If you are a business and want to help, e-mail the charity at as all deliveries must be carefully co-ordinated.