THE manager of a West Lancashire wedding venue who allowed NHS staff to stay there free of charge during the height of the virus outbreak has been hailed a ‘local hero’.
Stephanie Beqo, general manager at West Tower, in Aughton, not only offered the empty bedrooms to doctors and nurses, but also made the selfless decision to move out of her family home to work on site for 12 weeks between March to June.
Leaving behind her husband and two children, who are only aged six and one, Stephanie helped clean and tidy the rooms on her own while the NHS staff battled to save lives in nearby hospitals during the worst months of COVID-19.
After word got out of Stephanie’s gesture, hundreds of proud local residents took to social media to praise her efforts and staff from a local Morrison’s store sent a gift basket.
Stephanie told the Champion: “I have a number of friends and family members who work for the NHS and I was seeing a number of posts on social media back in March from individuals looking for cheap accommodation so they could leave their family home and continue working. When I knew West Tower would be unable to host weddings, I messaged those personal contacts privately and told them they were welcome to stay at West Tower so they could continue to work.
“This offer was available to any NHS staff for a total of 12 weeks until the end of June. As they were leaving their family home I thought it only right that I do the same.
“I was living on site at West Tower as someone needed to be there to ensure the bedrooms could be serviced, sanitized and set up ready for each guests arrival.
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“Depending on the doctors’ and nurses’ shift pattern this could be late at night or early morning and it meant I was available should any of them need anything and I could meet them on arrival to give them their bedroom keys.
“On arrival I gave them all my mobile number so they could contact me direct if they needed anything at all.
“My daughter is six and just about understands what is going on. I wanted to show her the importance of helping others and doing what we could during the pandemic for those who were working so hard for us all.”
When West Tower was closed on March 20, Stephanie and her hard working team had to postpone weddings and so far there are 130 that have been rearranged!
She added: “Throughout the pandemic and to date we have remained available to our guests seven days per week on website, email, phone, social media etc. I am not aware of any other venue that has done what West Tower have done.”