Mitchell Motor Group owner and AM Awards 2020’s Business Leader of the Year, Mark Mitchell, has given a temporary home to contagious diseases specialists who travelled from Africa to aid the NHS’s fight against COVID-19 coronavirus.
Mitchell opened his home to Peter and Catriona Waitt and their young family following a call from the couple late last week as they searched for a place to stay in Cheshire which would allow them to return from Uganda and put their skills to use assisting NHS staff at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital.
Catriona told AM how the family managed to catch the “last flight out of Uganda”, where they have been working to tackle the region’s Ebola outbreak for the past five years, before doing the same to beat the coronavirus shutdown in Dubai, to reach the UK.
"It was midnight last Friday when we got the call about our secondment to the UK, so it was a hectic few days of travelling over the weekend," she said.
“We required help from the British High Commission and the authorities in Uganda to ensure that that we got to the UK and it was something of a miracle that we made it in the end."
She added: "Peter and I are both experts in our fields and we have previously worked in Malawi, but we never expected to be seconded to the UK to help the NHS in our home country tackle an epidemic here.”
The family are now living in a converted stable block at Mitchell’s Cheshire home, while observing the Government’s strict ‘social distancing’ policies.
Catriona said that the sense at hospitals in Cheshire and Liverpool was that it was currently the “calm before the storm”, with the COVID-19 outbreak set to reach its peak in around four weeks’ time.
Husband Peter was able to address the team at Mitchells Group on the outbreak, and the approach they should take, on Monday (March 23) morning – before the business joined the UK lockdown of non-essential retail sites.
Mitchell, whose business was the subject of an AM car dealer profile last year, said: “His advice was really important for the team to hear. He focussed on the way to stay clean and safe, but also on the importance of staying calm and maintaining a good quality of life in the circumstances.
“This is a tough time for all of us and I’m just so glad that I’ve been able to host Peter and Catriona and their wonderful children to allow them to contribute by bringing their top medical knowhow to the UK.”
Mitchell, a devout Christian who tithes 20% of his businesses profit to good causes each year - as detailed in the group's recent 2020 annual financial results - allows families access to an annex and stable block on his property for use as a holiday retreat.
He first met the Waitt family when they used the property as accommodation during a visit to the UK two years ago.
“We were thrilled to have them back,” he said.