CELEBRITIES in the Black Country and Worcestershire are invited to donate items for the national Ask for Masks charity auction which is being organised to help buy extra PPE for heroic healthcare staff working on the frontline in the battle against coronavirus.

Dr David Nicholl, a consultant neurologist from Hagley, has been helping to seek out donations for the auction which will take place on eBay on Thursday May 14 at 8.15pm after the Clap for Carers moment.

Prizes donated to date include tickets to a Hugh Grant film premiere (donated by the actor himself), front row tickets to see Brian Wilson at the Albert Hall, lunch for two with food writer Giles Coren and Sue Perkins at a posh restaurant, and a break at a Cornish holiday home.

The fundraising endeavour was started by Katie Sanderson, a doctor on a COVID-19 ward in a London hospital, who couldn’t believe her luck when she contacted actress and comedian Sue Perkins to front the auction and she agreed.

She said she has been “very distressed by the significant gaps that remain in PPE provision, in hospitals but even more so in hospices, GP surgeries, and other community settings including care homes” and added: “Clearly PPE provision should not be charitably funded, but at the moment there are limited options for those who are failing to obtain it through official routes, and this is forcing my colleagues to take unnecessary risks to look after their patients.”

Hagley human rights campaigner Dr David Nicholl, who works at a Birmingham hospital, has been supporting her efforts and has helped to bring in some of the prizes.

He said: "We felt it important to try and do something positive so I contacted Hugh Grant, Adil Ray (the creator of Citizen Khan) and Jed Mercurio (the creator of Line of Duty) by Twitter to see if they would be willing to help for the AsksForMasks auction.

"I was over the moon at their responses, and certainly we would welcome any further donations to help raise money for PPE and other vital COVID-19 projects. We will certainly help save some lives.

"It is nothing short of a national scandal how a fifth of frontline doctors have unusable PPE, a situation likely to be even more dangerous in care homes where cases are increasing."

People can find out more about the charity auction online at www.asksformasks.co.uk.

Dr Nicholl added: “I can confirm that none of the kit we will be getting will compete with existing NHS logistics pathways.

“Any celebrities or sports stars in the Hagley or Black Country areas who may want to donate can email askformasks@gmail.com.”

The prizes will be live on eBay from Sunday May 10. People are invited to subscribe to the Ask for Masks YouTube channel to receive an invite to the event.