James McAvoy Donates $340,000 to U.K. Health Service for Protective Gear Amid Coronavirus Crisis

James McAvoy attends the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party-Getty-H 2019
Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

The actor called on others to donate to a crowdfunding campaign helping purchase vital equipment for U.K. health workers "fighting a war" against COVID-19.

James McAvoy has donated 275,000 pounds ($340,000) to help purchase equipment for health service staff treating coronavirus patients. 

The money was given to the crowdfunding campaign Masks for Heroes, set up by a group of U.K. doctors to raise money to buy personal protective equipment such as masks, visors and gloves for NHS staff, helping push the total so far to 700,000 pounds ($868,000), according to McAvoy, and more than three times the initial target of 200,000 pounds ($247,000).

"We've all heard stories about doctors and nurses having to buy their own personal protective equipment from the Internet or DIY stores, and the products aren't good enough and frankly neither is that situation," he said in an Instagram video. "Not only does it put the doctors and nurses at risk of contracting COVID-19 themselves, but it puts them at a higher risk of passing it on to their patients, or their patients family and giving them COVID-19. This situation is truly urgent, and time is of the essence."

McAvoy also took time to praise the health workers at the NHS who he said were "fighting a war" against COVID-19.  "Thank you so much to the NHS for everything you've done for me in my life," he said. "You've been there since the day I was born. You've saved my life in the past and, who knows, you may save my life again in the future. And I'm so glad we're trying to raise some money to help save your lives going forward."

The donation came just days after Mark Rylance backed a campaign by U.K. entertainment industry trade union Equity to help support its members impacted by the crisis, with the union pledging 1 million pounds ($1.24 million) itself and calling for further support for those who could contribute.

"Most of us are freelance, self-employed creative workers who move from theater to TV studio to film location to corporate training to radio to wherever we are needed, wherever a story needs to be told," said Rylance, adding that most Equity members were not famous or rich, and were hired for their flexibility and willingness to drop everything and turn up. 

"We as a union can begin now to set an example. A wonderful example of what our profession is truly about. Support for each other on and off stage. I am 60 this year, 40 years an actor and union member. I hope to meet young actors when I am 80 who ask me how we supported each other so generously during the coronavirus crisis."