'I thought it was a hoax' - Restaurateur who fed homeless and vulnerable on BEM joy

Tyrone and Kim Harold of Branford's Caister. Mr Harold has been awarded a BEM.

Tyrone Harold of Brandford's in Caister who is among recipients of a BEM in the New Year's honours list with his wife Kim, who he says deserves equal credit. - Credit: Tyrone Harold

When the first lockdown hit Tyrone Harold and his team committed themselves to helping their village community.

As the owner of Branford's, in Caister, the bar/restaurant wing of The Old Hall, he was well-placed to swing into action delivering over 200 home-cooked, nutritious meals for the vulnerable every week.

Using Whelan, the outdoor catering arm of his operation, he became a lifeline service for the village putting people before profit - a move some said restored their faith in humanity.

Tyrone Harold has been awarded a BEM.

Tyrone and Kim Harold out delivering food and gifts to the homeless housed in Great Yarmouth hotels on Christmas Day 2020. - Credit: Tyrone Harold

During the pandemic he also worked with Great Yarmouth Borough Council creating a bulk budget menu for the homeless and donated dinners to local schools amid controversy about how children were missing out.

Bulk beef stews ready to go out to rough sleepers for Great Yarmouth Borough Council which has provi

Bulk beef stews ready to go out to rough sleepers for Great Yarmouth Borough Council which has provided housing during the lockdown Picture: Tyrone Harold - Credit: Archant

The 54-year-old said he was "proud and humbled" to be handed a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen's New Year's Honours List for his services to the community during the Covid-19 crisis.

But he was quick to bat back any praise to his team, hailing the support of his wife Kim Harold and head chef Steven Trett as well as staff and volunteers.

"I feel very humbled and very happy but it is not just down to me," he said.

The Whelan volunteer team along with Caister FC committee members. Left to right Danny Parker, Viv C

The Whelan volunteer team along with Caister FC committee members. Left to right Danny Parker, Viv Crack, Roy Crack, Tyrone Harold, Kim Harold, Calvin Goffin, Ray Clarke, and Alan Peace Picture: Tyrone Harold - Credit: Archant

"My wife was involved all the way and quite a few things we did were her idea.

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"These things do get awarded to a person but there was the team at Branford's and the head chef Steven Trett - everything we did he was prepared to step up and help."

When the email first came through from the Home Office telling him about the award he thought it was a hoax, he said.

With multiple projects running at the same time he was also able to safely open the bar and restaurant, adapting to changing restrictions.

"When the pandemic hit everybody had a choice," he said.

Happy recipients of doorstep meals paid for by strangers in a scheme run by Whelan Bespoke Catering

Happy recipients of doorstep meals paid for by strangers in a scheme run by Whelan Bespoke Catering and Caister FC Picture: Tyrone Harold - Credit: Tyrone Harold

"We could either cry in our soup and think 'oh blimey', or think about all the other people a lot worse off.

"It is not all about the money and the government made it easier to a degree because of the furlough scheme.

Happy recipients of doorstep meals paid for by strangers in a scheme run by Whelan Bespoke Catering

Happy recipients of doorstep meals paid for by strangers in a scheme run by Whelan Bespoke Catering and Caister FC Picture: Tyrone Harold - Credit: Tyrone Harold

"I just figured we could either try to turn over more money or we could try to help others that were needy and vulnerable."

Mr Harold is also an International Boxing Association (AIBA) coach,  England Boxing team manager, and volunteers at a local club.

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