Staff at a family-run Ayrshire restaurant have been left in tears after receiving a torrent of abuse in response to giving free meals to NHS workers.

The Brae restaurant in Dreghorn, Irvine announced on Friday they were offering free ready-meals to nurses and doctors who were working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Several ready meals have already been delivered to staff since the offer went live, with workers also being offered 25% off further purchases with the business.

However, owner Iain Mason says the team had to deal with an onslaught of abusive and nasty messages within the first hour of posting the offer.

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"We've had so many people get in touch over private message and even phone calls asking 'why aren't you giving us the same'," he explained.

"They say it's not just the NHS that is helping people, and we should be giving it out to others as well.

"We'd love to help everyone, but we just can’t. We're a small business and we just want to do what we can."

The restaurant is just a few miles away from Crosshouse Hospital, one of Ayrshire's busiest.

But in an emotional Facebook post, the team said they would be forced to withdraw the offer if the abuse continued.

It read: "We were trying to do a nice thing for the vital front line staff of the NHS but have already revived a flurry of abuse and complaints.

"As a business, we are fighting for our own survival and despite that are still trying to help others.

"We are hemorrhaging money on a daily basis and therefore cannot possibly help absolutely everyone!

"Unfortunately if this continues we will be withdrawing our offer as it's simply not worth it.

"We're under enormous stress at the moment from thinking we're going to lose our business and having to tell all our valued staff that they effectively don't have jobs."

"My wife was in tears because of the amount of complaints – we’re just trying to help the NHS staff," admitted Iain.

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"They’re under enormous pressure and we thought a little something would help out."

But despite the negativity, the team at The Brae has received a number of orders so far - and even some people 'paying it forward' by buying meals for others.

Already, the team has visited staff with pre-prepared meals ready to be reheated, with those on shift doing a whip-around to tip the team.

"So much of the feedback has been amazing, but there's always a few that fall through the cracks," he said.

"We all have to help each other just now."