A charity founder who delivered restaurant-quality dishes to NHS staff working long hours in hospitals during Covid has been invited to the King’s coronation.

Oli Coles, from Chipping Norton, founded Hospitality for Heroes at the height of the pandemic in March 2020.

The charity went from an idea to having a workforce of 50-plus people in weeks, feeding NHS workers in 20 hospitals and supporting hospitality businesses in need by using chefs on furlough to prepare the dishes.

In 2021 Mr Coles was awarded the British Empire Medal for his services to the NHS and the hospitality industry during the pandemic and has been invited to the coronation as one of the 450 BEM holders.

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Mr Coles said: “It’s very hard to believe that an invitation like that isn’t a hoax. I am unbelievably honoured."

But he added: "I think the biggest thing for me is, it's the result of the hard work of a hell of a lot of people.

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“Hospitality For Heroes provided 150,000 restaurant-quality meals to frontline workers during Covid lockdowns and I didn’t prepare one of them."

The charity paired up with Sri Lankan restaurant The Coconut Tree in St Clements, visiting the John Radcliffe four times a week, with Mr Coles delivering some of the more than 100 free meals in hot boxes.

The charity raised more than £250,000 in donations helped by an online fundraising concert organised by Mr Coles featuring Mel C, Clean Bandit, Jack Savoretti and James Blunt that was streamed on International Nurses Day in hospitals across the country.

There was also a Hospitality for Heroes recipe book which led to an invitation for Mr Coles to appear on BBC hit show Masterchef.

“But I didn’t cook a single of the 150,000 meals, can’t cook and am not a foodie,” he said.

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He also won the Time Out Time In Award for Best Chef during the Pandemic – “Again... I didn’t cook a single of the 150,000 meals, can’t cook and am not a foodie.”

He was also placed on The Independent newspaper's annual Happy List which recognises 50 of the country’s most inspirational individuals.

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Entrepreneur Mr Coles, who runs a digital marketing agency, said: “During all of this I had a couple other businesses and projects on the go, as well as becoming a father to my boy Ozzy who at two months and again at eight months underwent open heart surgery.

"Hospitality for Heroes was the most rewarding start-up of my career to date didn’t make me a single penny.

"But it has delivered me the most unbelievable and historic of invitations.

"I will be wearing my medal. I'm incredibly excited."

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