Derbyshire businessman invents outdoor dining pods for the hospitality sector hit by the global pandemic

Derbyshire businessman invents outdoor dining pods for the hospitality sector hit by the global pandemic

A Derbyshire businessman has created a unique outdoor dining shelter to help save the hospitality industry during Covid-19.

Richard Sleigh, 50, from Stanley Village, believes his Freedom Pod – modelled on the Second World War Anderson air raid shelter – will solve the dilemma facing bars and restaurants of keeping customers socially distanced.

It should equally appeal to diners, especially given the news that you are 19 times more likely to contract the virus indoors, than outside.

The Freedom Pod, designed and built in Derbyshire, enables people to remain in their social bubbles during the coronavirus outbreak while enjoying a new outdoor dining experience in their favourite restaurant, pub or hotel.

Unlike marques or parasols, the innovative heated pods allow restaurant owners to keep entertaining guests, al fresco, summer or winter, 365 days a year.

And since the Freedom Pod launched this week, enquiries for orders are flooding in to the website, www.freedom-pod.com.

Mr Sleigh, whose business specialises in the food and drink sector, says the Freedom Pod will literally reinvent the industry.

He said:

“After 18 years working in the events and hospitality business, I felt driven to do something.

“When you work in the hospitality sector, people form close bonds and everyone feels like they’re in it together. So when the coronavirus hit, and restaurants and bars feared that they wouldn’t make it, we stepped in to try and help.

“The restaurant trade supports hundreds of thousands of families across the UK. We couldn’t sit by and watch their businesses collapse.

“We sat in the office in Derbyshire, and said: ‘What can we do?’

“We thought about restaurants and bars and hotels and asked what they were going to need to survive this pandemic and that’s when the idea for the Freedom Pod was born.

“We believe the Freedom Pod will help the hospitality sector survive one of the worst economic crises the world has ever seen.

“The office phone is already ringing off the hook and the Freedom Pod will be shipped to exciting new locations across the UK. We are also receiving enquiries from all over the world.

“The Freedom Pod comes flat packed, can be easily assembled and will be a big hit in the industry. We submitted our patent to the Patents Office several weeks ago.”

The Freedom Pod is a solid, insulated, weatherproof structure, which doesn’t need planning permission. It is easy to put together and can be supplied with flooring, dining tables and bench sets, electricity, USB sockets, sound systems and heaters.

The team worked round the clock during Lockdown to bring their vision to life and they liken the Freedom Pod to the famous Anderson shelter which was used to protect lives during the London Blitz.

As part of the design, it features corrugated steel and forms a curved-shape similar to the 1938 air raid shelter.

Mr Sleigh explains:

“The Anderson shelter was dug into people’s gardens to protect families from air raids. More than two million shelters were issued to families during bombing raids.

“Who would have thought that all these years later, we would create a similar shelter to protect people from something equally catastrophic – a global pandemic?

“During these challenging times for those in the restaurant trade, we want the Freedom Pod to help keep businesses afloat.

“Businesses will be able to make the most of their outdoor space, allowing more guests to return with safer social distancing rules in place.

“For the restaurants who feared collapse during Covid-19 – we’re throwing you a lifeline. Get a Freedom Pod, bring in much-needed revenue and encourage your customers to enjoy life and create positive memories.”

To discuss the Freedom Pod in more detail, customers are advised to call 0115 932 3955.


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