Furloughed airline cabin crew staff have been giving staff at North Devon District Hospital the first class treatment for their work during the coronavirus pandemic.

Aircrew who have been grounded because of the pandemic have been volunteering as part of Project Wingman to help NHS staff take a break from their work, providing a space to relax and de-stress.

Part of the new Fern Centre at the hospital has been temporarily turned into a lounge by the cabin crew, offering free drinks in an airport lounge experience.

Around 150 staff have been using the facility during their breaks each day. Social distancing measures are in place and the crew adhere to strict capacity rules.

Emma Henderson, co-Founder of Project Wingman, said: “As many of our pilots and cabin crew are currently grounded or on a reduced duties due to coronavirus, we wanted to focus our efforts on giving back to the NHS heroes who are working tirelessly during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re so pleased to be able to offer the Project Wingman service at Barnstaple Hospital; it’s very rewarding to see that the relaxing space is making a difference to the hard-working teams.”

Ian Roome, head of hospital charity Over and Above and volunteering at Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “This is an amazing gesture from all the airlines taking part in Project Wingman here at North Devon District Hospital.

“I would encourage all our staff to visit the facility and be served refreshments from our very own mock airport lounge.”