If the pandemic has shown us one thing, it's that the frontline workers – the nurses, doctors, cleaners, kitchen porters and more – who take care of us are true champions.
But while they're knee-deep in one of the worst health crises in recent years, major milestones like birthdays, anniversaries and weddings are being nudged to the side. Well, one of Ireland's most successful chefs is launching a competition to give one lucky frontline worker and their partner the wedding of a lifetime.
Michelin-starred chef Richard Corrigan is opening up his luxurious Virginia Park Lodge, the 18th-century hunting lodge he painstakingly renovated, to healthcare frontline workers who are planning a wedding.
The package includes everything from planners to bakers and is worth a whopping €90,000. "I'm offering the whole estate and the townhouse the night before in the village to a wonderful couple", Corrigan told The Ray D'Arcy Show.
Even better? The lottery is in collaboration with St Vincent de Paul and is now live.
Speaking to Ray over the phone from London, what he calls "the quietest city in the world", Corrigan says this is all about looking to the future and staying positive.
"We have to look to the future and we have to say a big thank you to everyone who's done an amazing job of keeping us all safe", he says.
Optimism comes easy to him, Corrigan says, but these times have been challenging. "I'm the most optimistic person in the world, I'm a believer in the future. It's like someone has hit me with a hurley, has given me a good old clatter. I really don't know what to make of it long term. Short term, I can only think from week to week, month to month."
Unlike many restaurants and chefs, Corrigan hasn't pivoted his businesses to doing takeaways or at-home kits. The only place still serving up his award-winning food is Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill in London's Piccadilly, where he has teamed up with the London charity Under One Sky to give out 500 meals to the homeless.
"The most working-class of us all have been hit the hardest by this", he says. "The drivers, the bus drivers, the ambulances, the porters, kitchen help, hospital workers. It's always the people with the very least to earn."
To enter, one of the couple must be a frontline worker - a detail that will be checked. "One of them has to be working in the HSE or up north with the NHS. They can be kitchen porters, cleaners, trolley workers, nurses, doctors, surgeons, I don't care", Corrigan says.
The offer covers weddings booked between now and April 2022. All the applicants have to do is donate €10 to the Society of St Vincent de Paul, and you can nominate yourself or another loved one working in the health force.
Naturally, the Virginia Park Lodge is a deeply personal place or Corrigan, who has spent years restoring it to its former glory.
"The Virginia Park Lodge is where I was married", he says. "It's where on my wedding night I sat with a glass of wine in the front room, sitting beside the fireplace with not an a*** in me pocket, worrying about how to pay for the goddamn meal that we were just after having.
"I came back and I bought the place and I spent the last seven years putting it back to what it would have looked like in the 1900s."
Now, he's calling on other restauranteurs and chefs to join in and give back, so that those working on the frontline can have something special to look forward to.
To apply, click here.