Burger van owner gave away more than 2,000 meals during lockdown

A burger van owner gave away more than 2,000 meals during the first national lockdown and is now planning a special surprise for children in his village in the run-up to Christmas.

James Thomas, known as Beefy of Beefy’s Baps, made and delivered around 2,300 meals to vulnerable and elderly people during the first national lockdown.

“We were going to give away 100 meals in lockdown and then it started spiralling,” said James, from Gilfach Goch.

With help from the local community and Gilfach Goch Rugby Club, as well as using his own money, James set out on a “logistical nightmare” delivering meals all over the village as well as neighbouring Tonyrefail, where his burger van is based. Some days would see James deliver more than 100 meals.

As well as delivering food to those who were isolating he also set about on fundraising for the local Royal Glamorgan Hospital.

More than £1,000 was donated to the hospital while a further £500 was donated to mental health charity Mind as well as other local small charities.

Kind-hearted James helped others in need during the spring lockdown
Kind-hearted James helped others in need during the spring lockdown
(Image: James Thomas)

Now James has set his sights on Christmas and has a special surprise in store for people in Gilfach Goch which has so far seen him stash 1,300 chocolate selection boxes in his house.

“We do more work outside the burger van than we do in it,” joked James. “I lost my mother two years ago and it just keeps my mind going.

“It is just a feeling of goodness. But then Christmas – one night I was sitting there thinking: ‘What can I do?’.

“This year is different for the kids, there are no Santa visits, so I came up with the idea of dressing up as Santa and going around the village to see the children.”

James in full St Nick regalia
James in full St Nick regalia
(Image: James Thomas)

In the first week of December James is planning on dressing as the big man himself and taking to the streets on his quad bike with a Christmas trailer on tow to deliver chocolate selection boxes to the children of Gilfach Goch.

He is also preparing for an evening in Cardiff supporting a homeless charity to feed those without anywhere to go at Christmas time.

James was nominated as a Covid hero in WalesOnline’s Covid Heroes campaign which is sponsored by Amazon.

WalesOnline has teamed up with Amazon, whose own staff went above and beyond to keep deliveries going through lockdown, to recognise Covid Heroes in Wales.

We want to hear about the Covid Heroes of your community. All we need you to do is fill in the form below and nominate a person, organisation or group that has made a difference to your life in 2020.

If you can’t see the survey click here: https://form.jotform.com/203034765880356

Amazon reveals why it’s backing Covid Heroes

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of Amazon co-workers in fulfilment centres, sort centres and delivery stations across the UK have been working to fulfil customer orders.

Their work has enabled people to stay at home and have orders delivered to their door, and provided a way for tens of thousands of small and medium-sized businesses sell their products in Amazon’s stores. 

Nothing is more important to us than the wellbeing of our employees and, with guidance from the World Health Organisation, we’ve made over 150 process changes focused on the health and safety of our teams.

As part of a coalition of companies, universities, and research institutions, we’ve worked with the Government to boost Covid-19 testing capacity and deliver test kits to homes around the country. To date, we have waived all fees and charges for this service.

We have also expanded our partnership with Magic Breakfast, a charity which provides healthy breakfasts to school children. With schools shut due to Covid-19, they were temporarily unable to reach those children and families in need of support.  We stepped in to help with warehousing and logistics expertise and so far we have delivered more than 1.4 million food parcels directly to the doorstep of thousands of children around the UK.

Our own teams have worked throughout, but we also wanted to send our heartfelt thanks to the many key workers who are tirelessly supporting the communities around us – and we’re delighted to back this campaign to highlight the Covid Heroes who have brought many communities closer together.

Amazon provides some of the most advanced workplaces of their kind in the world, with industry-leading pay, processes and systems to ensure the wellbeing and safety of all employees – and we’re hiring right now. For details see www.amazonjobs.co.uk

We don’t want to pick a winner – they’re all winners as far as we’re concerned – but we will contact as many of your heroes as possible to shine a spotlight on them in the weeks ahead.

James’ step-daughter Courtney Thomas, who nominated him, said: “What he has done is outstanding – a lot of it has come out of his own pocket. He didn’t have to step up but he did.”

WalesOnline – Wales News