Beers, deer and heroes: heartwarming moments in coronavirus Britain

Helen Pidd North of England editor
Photograph: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

Despite the torrent of sad and unsettling news about the spread of coronavirus around the UK, many people are doing their best to bring cheer – and beer – to those who deserve it most.

Buy NHS workers a pint

As many people pickle their livers at home each night during lockdown, they may be wishing they could pour a glass for the NHS workers trying to keep us safe. Well, now they can. Brew Gooder, based in Glasgow, has set up “One On Us”, a way for beer fans to buy a few pints for NHS staff. Philanthropic boozers can purchase a four-pack for £6 to be donated to “NHS champions”, who can either self-nominate or be put forward by someone else. “It’s not much, but with beer nationally recognised as a currency of gratitude, it’s a small gesture to show your appreciation to a tireless NHS worker that you don’t know and may never meet. A way of saying, ‘Here’s one on us,’” the company says. In the first 48 hours of the campaign, Brits bought over 4,000 beers for NHS workers.

In Manchester, the Cloudwater brewery has been operating an online token system allowing customers to donate beer to healthcare workers with every order. Now it has also decided to offer a 25% discount to all key workers, not just those in the NHS but also those with email addresses proving they work for the police, government, educational institutions (engaged in testing, antibody, and vaccine research and development) and public broadcasters. “Many of you are engaged in work that places you at risk, with stresses and anxieties mounting against fewer moments of true relaxation,” Cloudwater say, offering the discount “with our heartfelt thanks, and in recognition of your vital work in keeping us safe, informed, and heading towards the peak of this pandemic with less fear and uncertainty as a result of your individual and collective efforts”.

Meet the owls of Wigan and virtually feed the pigs of Bath

Wings of the World, an owl sanctuary in Wigan, has been posting daily videos documenting the trials and tribulations of its feathered residents. There’s Lunar, the nosy barn owl; Prince, the attention-seeking four-year-old barn owl who loves to have his head stroked; Charming, the snowy owl with all-seeing yellow eyes; and Gizmo, pleased as punch with his new perch. Alas, Wednesday’s post was a bit of a downer. All week, owl fans had been on tenterhooks to see if a tiny owlet handed in by a member of the public would make a recovery. She was X-rayed (an owl X-ray is something you don’t see every day) and a ruptured air sac was discovered, a birth defect. Alas, she wasn’t strong enough to survive and was put down by the vet.

Meanwhile, Bath City Farm is to use its Facebook page to broadcast live animal feeding from the farm every Saturday morning and keep people in touch with farm life as they stay at home. The local charity’s buildings, cafe and toilets are closed until further notice and all project groups, volunteering, bookings and events have been suspended. But from 11am on Saturday, fans of the farm will be able to see their favourite animals, including Pam the pig and piglets, and Shetland ponies Dougie and Dougal, given brunch during a virtual tour.

Barrow police bring birthday cheer

After hearing that a local lad was a bit down in the dumps about celebrating his seventh birthday in lockdown, one Cumbria police officer decided to cheer him up. PC Wallbank arrived on the boy’s street in Barrow on Thursday in a liveried van, sirens wailing, a loudhailer in hand.

“This is a police message. I’m after Frankie. Is Frankie there? Frankie, I’ve been told something about you,” bellowed the officer, as the boy nervously came out of his house to see if he was in trouble. But instead of giving the birthday boy a reprimand, the officer handed him a present and blasted out a rendition of Happy Birthday on his megaphone.

Meanwhile, cops in North Wales got a shock on Thursday morning when they pulled over a random car and found their chief constable at the wheel. “This morning, travelling to Wrexham to go out on patrol, pulled over by my own local policing officers, doing a great job, although their faces were a picture. Keep up the good work,” tweeted Carl Foulkes.

The superheroes of Stockport go global

Your friendly neighbourhood Stockport Spider-Man Photograph: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

Earlier this week the story of the Stockport Spider-Man went global, with TV stations and newspapers across the world reporting on his mission to bring joy to isolated children in the Greater Manchester borough by running past their houses in full Spidey get-up. Since then, other superheroes have followed suit. There is now a Princess Belle bringing a bit of Beauty and the Beast magic to the streets of Cornwall, a Batman in Widnes, a Wonder Woman in the Tameside neighbourhood of Haughton Green, a Mr Incredible in Trafford, plus numerous Supermen and Hulks, all using their government-sanctioned daily exercise sessions to cheer up bored kids.

Deer of Harold Hill

Deer stalkers: the denizens of Dagnam Park branch out into Romford Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

After the marauding goats of Llandudno brought a smile to many faces earlier this week, the deer of Harold Hill in east London decided they wanted a piece of the limelight. Well-known locally for their occasional trips into suburbia, a gang of stags and does decided to take advantage of the locked-down streets and set up grazing site on grass outside a housing estate. The singer Billy Bragg was one of many celebrities to enjoy the scene and was contacted by a former local priest, who offered this sheepish reminiscence: “When I was a vicar in Harold Hill, I got angry about kids vandalising the flowers in our church grounds. I felt a bit sheepish when an early-rising local told me how nice it was to see the deer outside the church when he set off for work at 5 every morning.”

And finally …

Enjoy the shame of this American worker who somehow turned her face into a potato during a staff video conference. She couldn’t work out how to change it back and had to sit like a spud during the entire meeting.