UK

Joanna Lumley Hands Out Restaurant's 100,000th Free Meal At Army Barracks

The restaurant has been using the barracks throughout the pandemic and has fed some of the military personnel deployed on COVID-19 duties.

Joanna Lumley has visited the Royal Artillery Barracks in London to hand out a Nepalese restaurant's 100,000th free meal of the pandemic.

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Ms Lumley has supported the efforts of Lewisham-based Panas Gurkha Restaurant, which has been cooking up free meals for key workers.

She handed out the landmark free meal at the British Army barracks in Woolwich, south London, alongside the restaurant's owner, Sujan Katuwal, and an NHS spokesperson.

Mr Katuwal said: "It's immense joy and in front of my family, my staff, it's such a thing money cannot buy."

The restaurant has fed some of the military personnel deployed on coronavirus duties during the pandemic.

Ms Lumley has been a longtime supporter of Nepalese people, and championed a successful campaign for the rights of Gurkhas to settle in the UK.

"This was just an example of community spirit that I think was fabulous," Ms Lumley said.

"It has woven the community of south London together and also set into the minds of others, people thinking: 'We could be doing that.'

"Of course there are a billion acts of kindness going on all over the country all the time, but this one is very close to my heart."

In addition to military personnel, the meals have been going to the local hospital, other NHS workers, and the homeless.

Warrant Officer Class Two Jason de-Bargeton said the food was "very tasty".

Lance Corporal Jit Basadur Gurung, Military Provost Guard Service, added: "The food is fantastic, delicious, myself and my colleagues, everyone enjoys, the food is so good."

The delivery of the 100,000th meal marks the end of this chapter for Sujan Katuwal and his family, but the free meals will go on under a newly-formed charity called Panas Helping Hands.

The Armed Forces have played a key role in the UK's COVID-19 response, including assisting with the logistics of the vaccine rollout and administering jabs.

Earlier this year, the military response to the pandemic became the biggest ever homeland military operation in peacetime.