The #SLHFORHEROES campaign recognised those that went above and beyond to help others during the Coronavirus outbreak. Winners, chosen on the merit of their nomination by the SLH team and an external judge, expert travel writer, Steven King, Editor-at-Large Condé Nast Traveller (UK), have each been rewarded with two-night stays for use at one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World properties. With over 520 hotels in more than 90 countries, SLH offers the opportunity to experience countryside retreats, beach resorts, cities and historic locations, subject to travel restrictions.
Winners have done everything from volunteering for a vaccine trial; isolated from families to ensure they remain protected whilst fulfilling their duties; supermarket workers delivering food to the vulnerable and shielding; to people working for the government job retention scheme transferring to supporting in A&E as healthcare assistants at weekends; not forgetting those doctors and nurses who contracted the virus while caring for patients, who returned as soon as fit to do so.
In addition to the two nights, deserving winners will further unlock additional hidden extras once their reservation is confirmed at a participating hotel. These extras, generously donated by our hotels in support of the campaign, include spa treatments, airport transfers, surfing lessons, private tours, and dinners.
“We are immensely heartened by the stories told by members of the public on behalf of their nominees. There really is an enormous sense of gratitude for those around the world who have worked tirelessly in the face of the pandemic. We are delighted that the campaign attracted so many nominations on a global scale – winners spanned 33 countries worldwide with 29% of those 500 from the UK. From frontline health workers through to delivery drivers and the army of charity workers and volunteers supporting the elderly, homeless and disadvantaged, these outstanding individuals have put their lives on the line every day and we hope these nights and special escapes provides them with the break they deserve”.
“On the face of it, you might think there is not much of an upside to the Covid-19 pandemic. Not too many rays of sunshine amid the gloom and doom. And yet, in fact, there is an upside, and there are many rays of sunshine.
Each of the 500 individuals on the SLH for Heroes winners’ list is a ray of sunshine. And there are thousands – hundreds and hundreds of thousands – of others like them around the world. Good people doing extraordinary things at a time of tremendous difficulty.
Naturally, many of these heroes are healthcare professionals – doctors, nurses, paramedics, orderlies, carers, pharmacists, technicians. People on the front line whose actions have not only brought comfort and eased distress but in many cases saved lives. But heroes come in different shapes and sizes, from every walk of life, as the testimonials provided to SLH make clear. So it is that a cheerful postman in Shanghai, doing his job with particular kindness and care, can be a hero too. A diligent supermarket cleaner in Chicago likewise. A human-rights lawyer in Medellin. A watermelon farmer in rural India.
The story of the watermelon farmer was one of my favourites as I read through the winners’ list. This gentleman’s name is Alladi Mahadevan. Because of the lockdown imposed by the Indian government to reduce the spread of Covid-19, farmers in remote areas across the country suddenly found themselves with no access to their main urban markets. Perceiving the impending calamity, Mr Mahadevan arranged a system to link farmers in his home state of Tamil Nadu to buyers in the nearest big city, Chennai, and a delivery service to make sure the fruit arrived on time. Asked why Mr Mahadevan deserved an SLH for Heroes prize, his referee wrote: ‘This is on behalf of all the watermelon farmers of Kanchipuram and Chengalpattu districts whose lives and livelihoods you saved. We think of you every time we eat, and we bless you.’
The heartfelt language of this tribute makes plain the importance of such acts of heroism in a time of crisis. Another hero, Wu Chun Ling, is a Chinese doctor – the sole doctor in the sole hospital for disabled children in Kaifeng, a city with a population of 4.6 million. Her referee describes her as ‘a practitioner of love and perseverance’. Yet another hero is Kaylyn Kilkuskie, in New York. ‘Kaylyn’s work isn’t glamorous or high-profile,’ her referee writes. ‘She has simply chosen to spend her quarantine time helping people. Her days are spent volunteering at New York City’s Henry Street Settlement food pantry, evenings sewing masks (her own brilliant design) to give away. Kindness blossoms because of you, Kaylyn!’
Kindness blossoms because of each and every one of the remarkable men and women whose names appear on the SLH for Heroes list. They are all, in their different, wonderful ways, practitioners of love and perseverance.”
The first confirmed Hero’s stay is to Inverlochy Castle in Scotland. We look forward to welcoming many more of our Heroes, and members, through our doors soon.