Big-hearted Lee, 39, has teamed up with the GMB Union to organise the generous give-away. He told the Daily Express he wanted to “honour Britain’s unsung heroes – the people who soldiered on this year and kept things going.” The Essex-born singer, who came to fame after winning the BBC One talent show Any Dream Will Do, said: “In the middle of the first lockdown, I was home in Kent and realised that all of my family were still working. My Dad is a postman, my mum’s a cleaner, my brother Casey is a customs officer and my sister-in-law Charlotte is a nurse. In the middle of the pandemic they kept doing their jobs without complaint.
“Like millions of other hard-pressed, low-paid workers they had to go on – to keep the country running. And I wanted to do something to thank all of them.”
He initially booked the Adelphi Theatre in the West End to put on a free concert for key workers, but he said, “That fell through because of Covid, so I hit on the idea of donating 1,000 tickets to my 2021 tour.”
Lee, who has a daughter with ex-wife Denise Van Outen, is releasing his first Christmas single next Monday (14/12 – don’t put this in, subs’ mark) called In My Arms For Christmas which feature five key workers in the video that was recorded on Sunday – “a bus driver, a nurse, a cleaner, a policeman, and a postie”.
Lola McEvoy of the GMB said: “Lee’s generous gesture of free tickets shows the strength of support for our members on the frontline. Our NHS members have been saving lives, our Care members providing dignity for our most vulnerable, our education members supporting the next generation, while our retail, logistics and food production members have been keeping the country fed.
“Their contribution must be recognised with a fundamental shift in the way we value work, going forward we will continue to fight for them to get the reward they deserve.
“When stars like Lee use their platform to celebrate the work of our members it strengthens our hand, as well as giving them a much-needed night out!”
She added: “We wish Lee all the best with his single and tour, and on behalf of our members, thank him for reminding everyone that our key worker heroes are still on the frontline risking their health to protect us from the Coronavirus. COVID-19 won’t take a break because it’s Christmas, so neither can they.
“Our key workers have faced unprecedented pressure this year – it’s only right they be rewarded with decent pay and conditions as well as thanks and praise.”
Lee, who stars as Prince Charming in Sleeping Beauty at Milton Keynes this month, said: “Because of my family, I really understand the sacrifices made by this particular sector of the community – and no more so than at Christmas time when the majority of people just want to be with their loved ones.”
He praised shopworkers, like those in his local Marks & Spencer’s store, for their cheerful, can-do attitude.
Lee’s 35-date 2021 tour, Lee Mead – My Band & Me, kicks off on September 3rd and will run through to October 31.
He said “I’m really confident that it will happen, especially now we’ve got the vaccine. It’s been a tough time for people who work in theatres and live entertainment. I’m lucky our panto is still on. I’m grateful to be back on stage.”
Eligible key workers who are members of the GMB can register to apply for two tickets for a show at their nearest theatre at leemead.co.uk from December 14.