TWENTY-SIX NHS heroes and their families will enjoy a free holiday in north Pembrokeshire, thanks to Operation Recuperation and St Brides Bay Cottages.

Owners of more than two dozen cottages in St Davids, Solva and Porthgain, that are managed by the company, have donated free stays at their cottages for frontline healthcare workers next year.

The Solva-based business was the first holiday rental company to team up with its property owners and Operation Recuperation to donate holidays to NHS staff as part of the initiative to say thank you to the healthcare heroes who have been risking their lives to keep the UK safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The NHS workers who were nominated were then entered into a draw and the winners contacted by Operation Recuperation.

"It's been amazing to talk to the winners of our free cottage stays and to help them arrange their much-deserved breaks," said Sam Sibbald, manager of St Brides Bay Cottages.

"The past eight months have been immensely challenging for them and we can't wait to welcome them. We're incredibly grateful to our generous cottage owners for stepping forward to donate stays in their holiday homes, so we can help the NHS staff recover from the fight against coronavirus."

One of the cottage owners who is donating a stay is Angela Samuel, whose niece Rachael, was part of the team that nursed Prime Minister Boris Johnson when he was in intensive care with Covid-19 in April. Angela is giving one of the chosen health workers a free one-week break at Garth Cottage, the cosy holiday home she owns in St Davids.

"Nursing at the peak of the first wave of the outbreak must have been horrendous," said Angela.

"Rachael was working 14-hour shifts in the intensive care unit. Also, my daughter-in-law, Lisa, is a cleaner in the ITU at the Princess of Wales Hospital, in Bridgend, and I feel proud of them both."

Another of the kind-hearted cottage owners is Bethan Goodson, of St Davids, who was inspired to donate a stay to a nurse at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, where she herself did her nursing training.

Bethan who is now a health visitor in Haverfordwest, is giving away a one-week holiday at Treswny, a beautifully renovated period house in St Davids.

"I trained as a nurse at St Barts in 1988, so I thought I'd offer a week of accommodation for a nurse from there to recuperate and relax," said Bethan. "I was aware of what it could be like to work at the hospital when the coronavirus was at its height."

For NHS worker Neil Lockyer, a one-week holiday in scenic Pembrokeshire will be welcome relief after a challenging and stressful year. Neil – who is based at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London, where he works for the Cardiovascular Health and Rehabilitation Service – is being treated to a stay at Melin Llanrhian, an idyllic converted watermill, near Porthgain.

"During the Covid-19 emergency, we had to juggle selling our flat, having a house sale fall through, and then moving in with my wife Kerry's parents while she was heavily pregnant.

"In May, we had a very traumatic emergency birth, and I couldn't attend the birth or visit during my wife and daughter's lengthy hospital stay.

"All the time I was working and trying to keep up morale, and being redeployed into different areas at work because of the pandemic.

"The news of the cottage stay came completely out of the blue and it's extremely appreciated. We last had a holiday almost two years ago, and the trip to Pembrokeshire will be our first holiday with baby Orla, so I'm sure we'll remember it forever."

Rachel Sherwood, who launched Operation Recuperation, said:

"We can't thank St Brides Bay Cottages and their cottage owners enough for being the first holiday rental company to partner with Operation Recuperation back in early April. They paved the way for so many other property owners to donate stays. It's been a joy to contact the winners and to let them know about their free stays. We're immensely grateful to the NHS workers for everything they're doing to keep us safe through the pandemic."

To find out more about St Brides Bay Cottages and Operation Recuperation, visit: