neil lockyer and family

26 NHS heroes win free cottage holidays

We’re delighted to reveal that 26 frontline healthcare workers have been chosen to win free stays at our Pembrokeshire holiday cottages.

We were the first holiday rental company to team up with our incredible property owners and Operation Recuperation to donate holidays to NHS staff.

Our family-run holiday letting agency joined 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.

And we were thrilled when 23 of our cottage owners came forward to give away 26 stays in picturesque St Davids, Solva and Porthgain.

Operation Recuperation winners picked

Operation Recuperation – the UK-wide campaign launched to gift stays in beautiful places to frontline healthcare providers – has now contacted the winners of the holidays.

The NHS workers – who were nominated and then entered into a draw – can look forward to a relaxing and rejuvenating break in beautiful South West Wales in 2021.

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

Cottage owners step forward to help

One of the cottage owners who is donating a stay is Angela Samuel, whose niece was part of the team that nursed Prime Minister Boris Johnson when he was in intensive care with COVID-19 in April. Angela, aged 68, 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.

Garth Cottage, St Davids, which is one of the holiday homes managed by St Brides Bay Cottages where frontline healthcare staff are being treated to a free stay.

Angela, who lives in St Davids, said: “At the time when I heard about Operation Recuperation, Boris Johnson was in St Thomas’s Hospital, London, being treated for coronavirus. My niece, Rachael, was part of the team that nursed him. Nursing at the peak of the first wave of the outbreak must have been horrendous. 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. Operation Recuperation is a wonderful idea, and donating a stay to someone in the NHS is a way I can help.”

Chance to recuperate from the fight against COVID-19

Another of the kind-hearted holiday 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, because Bethan trained to be a nurse at the same hospital.

Bethan, aged 50, 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.

Bethan said: “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. I was aware of what it could be like to work at the hospital when the coronavirus was at its height.”

‘A great way to de-stress’

Among the NHS workers who is being gifted a stay with St Brides Bay Cottages is Leeann Morgan, a radiographer at Withybush General Hospital in Haverfordwest. Sometime in 2021, Leeann and her family will be packing their suitcases for a one-week holiday at Ty Peggie, an attractive bungalow with outstanding sea views in the pretty harbour village of Solva.

Leeann, who lives in Haverfordwest and whose husband, Dave, is a pharmacist at Withybush, said: “My family and I are extremely grateful for this holiday; we were delighted when we found out. It’s been a stressful time, so we’re really looking forward to this break. Pembrokeshire is amazing; we love the beaches, the outdoors, and the gorgeous scenery. The holiday will be a great way to de-stress.”

‘Cottage stay is extremely appreciated’

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.

neil lockyer and family
NHS worker Neil Lockyer with his wife Kerry and their daughter Orla. Neil is one of the recipients of a free stay with St Brides Bay Cottages as part of Operation Recuperation.

Neil, aged 36, who lives in Bushey, Hertfordshire, with his wife Kerry, 35, and their baby daughter, Orla, said: “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’s parents while Kerry was heavily pregnant.

“Then 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. And 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 Orla, so I’m sure we’ll remember it forever.”

‘It’s wonderful to have received this generous gift’

Emergency medicine consultant, Cara Jennings, will be bringing two other NHS workers with her when she travels to Pembrokeshire next year for a four-night stay at Ty Nain, a spacious holiday bungalow in St Davids.

Cara, aged 40, who lives in South London and works at King’s College Hospital in London, said: “I’ve been working throughout the COVID-19 crisis and have had to put in lots of extra hours, so it’s wonderful to have received this generous gift.

Emergency medicine consultant Cara Jennings, who has also won a free holiday with St Brides Bay Cottages as part of Operation Recuperation.
Emergency medicine consultant Cara Jennings, who has also won a free holiday with St Brides Bay Cottages as part of Operation Recuperation.

“I stayed in one of St Brides Bay Cottages’ holiday homes a couple of years ago and had a fabulous time. St Davids is a beautiful part of the world and I’m excited to be returning. In the spirit of recuperation of NHS staff, I’ve asked two friends who work at a different hospital to join me, rather than my husband and children.”

Cara will be joined on her holiday by Rachel Turner, an alcohol and drugs specialist nurse, and Sharon Hall, an emergency medicine consultant.

Cara added: “We look forward to enjoying the beaches and walks.”

A big thank you from Operation Recuperation

Operation Recuperation is an initiative set up in March 2020 by Rachel Sherwood to help frontline healthcare staff recover from the fight against COVID-19. It’s collecting pledges of second-home stays, holiday rentals and hotel nights to provide recuperation breaks for NHS workers.

Operation Recuperation spent the summer contacting the hardest-hit hospital trusts around the UK, and over 3,000 frontline staff registered for the stays.

So far, the programme has given free holidays all over the world to 250 healthcare workers. Their reaction has been priceless.

Rachel 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.”

Book your next staycation on the Pembrokeshire coast

At St Brides Bay Cottages, we’ve been letting holiday homes for more than 40 years, during which time we’ve become one of the best-loved holiday cottage rental agencies in Pembrokeshire.

Based in Solva, we offer a range of high-quality self-catering properties, from cottages and six-bedroom houses to apartments and log cabins.

Our portfolio of handpicked holiday homes – in St Davids, Solva, Newgale, Porthgain and Pwllderi – includes coastal cottages with sea views, and rural retreats with log-burners. Plus, many of our properties are dog-friendly, too.

To book your next cottage holiday or find out more, email, call 01437 720027 or click here.