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Coronavirus: 'Locksmith Doctor' has the key to helping others

Few can have helped as many people desperately in need as Gary Braesyde has in 2020.
Gary Braesyde from peterborough
Peterborough's Gary Braesyde on the front line at Nightingale Hospital. Photo: Gary Braesyde

Gary, in his professional guise as the Locksmith Doctor, carries out maintenance and repairs at houses in Peterborough, going the extra mile for those who are vulnerable.

But only a few weeks ago he was on the front line at the Nightingale Hospital in London as an anaesthetic practitioner leading a team attending those battling Covid-19.

Gary had already left the medical profession behind to set up his own business before he was called back to deal with the pandemic in London.

Now back at home in Hampton - but on alert should he be required again - Gary is looking to draw on his own experiences to give those who are disadvantaged the chance to improve their lives.

His reputation for helping those who need it most, alongside his high-pressure work at the Nightingale, has led to suggestions of him being put forward for community awards.

The dad-of-two said: "I have been in the medical field for almost all of my life and have got an autistic son so obviously this means a lot to me.

"I'm looking to start a business for people with learning difficulties and disabilities, to give them job coaching and professional experience with us until they can stand on their own two feet.

"I was brought up in care myself and I just want to give something back. When I was 16 they gave you the keys and just let you get on with it in life, but that isn't always possible.

"The priority is to grow the business and start to take people on, which will not be easy."

Gary - currently working in full PPE when he goes to properties - is listed on with an average score of 10 out of 10 from 78 reviewers.

The site, based at the Allia Future Business Centre, is a portal for finding reputable tradesmen within the PE postcode, and managing director Eileen Le Voi said: "We are all blessed when someone so exceptional comes into our lives.

"Although Gary is extremely passionate about his business being successful, he finds it difficult on many occasions to take money from his customers and has the biggest heart and is the most altruistic person I have ever met."

The site is important to him, not only for work but also to show the benefits of using trusted traders in the area, and not national chains purporting to be local.

The reviews on the site describe some of the reasons he has been so recognised; from aiding an elderly lady suffering from dementia at Christmas time to repairing the properties of those who have been victims of domestic abuse - both without charging - his is a story of helping others.


The Locksmith DoctorPeterborough's Gary Braesyde - the Locksmith Doctor. Photo: Gary Braesyde

Down the line, Gary has a number of ambitions. His partner Camilla is a project manager for Project SEARCH at Imperial College Healthcare.

The project offers interns a year-long placement in which adults with learning difficulties undertake 10 to 12 week placements within big organisations. It has a remarkable success rate of helping them into work in London - both believe it could be a success in Peterborough.

Another is to create a semi-independent unit in conjunction with The Garden House project, bridging the gap between what helping people off the streets and preparing them for a sustainable life.

"I would like to help them, encourage them, and train them up for work. But for all this to work I have to get an income stream, as at the moment it is coming out of my savings."

Gary led a team of eight at the Nightingale, set up in East London’s ExCeL exhibition centre with 4,000 beds, and knows he could be called back again at 24 hours' notice and re-immersed into the traumatic environment where he fought to save lives.


Gary  Braesyde from Peterborough 2
Peterborough's Gary Braesyde worked at London's NHS Nightingale. Photo: Gary Braesyde

He said: "It was tough going. We had a few successes but a lot of deaths as well.

"There were quite a few occasions when I went from one bed space to another when the crash alarm went off, and I felt like a human pinball. Sometimes there were three at once.

"I think that in society about 80% of people are doing what has been asked of them in terms of guidelines, and about 20% of youngsters or people who don't care have just violated it.

"I think people's behaviours are changing. People are frustrated by supermarket queues, and the pressure of furlough and everything else - and we could see the crime rate go up.

"The government message has been confusing and we should have kept to the message with Scotland and Wales - stay alert is nowhere near as clear as stay at home."

 He added: "Some people would like a Bentley in the driveway to mark their legacy, but for me it's helping people in life.

"Don't call me a hero, the real heroes are the ones who are doing it 24/7. All I'm doing is my little bit."

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