Image demonstrating Northumberland firms and residents rally to produce PPE 

Northumberland firms and residents rally to produce PPE 

Local businesses, schools and residents have stepped up to the mark to ensure that Northumberland’s health workers receive the protective equipment needed to continue their vital work in the front line of the coronavirus battle.

An army of local people with 3D printers have been using their talents to create tens of thousands of protective face visors for the NHS, residential care homes, pharmacists and other key workers.

Medical institutions around the country recently reached out to the 3D printing community to help them overcome the shortfall in protection for frontline workers.

And in Northumberland this call has been answered, with businesses, schools and crafters using their high tech kit and industry approved designs, to produce thousands of headbands which are attached to laser cut polypropylene sheets to create protective face shields. 

Councillor Peter Jackson, Leader of Northumberland County Council said: “Our local community has once again really risen to the plate, this time by playing a key role in protecting frontline workers.  

“It is very heart-warming to know there is so much local help and support out there and that people across the county are working extremely hard to meet this critical challenge to make PPE, which could ultimately save lives.”

Teachers at some Northumberland schools, now closed because of the lockdown, have been heading back into the classroom to use the printing facilities to make the equipment destined for the NHS frontline. Other teachers have been helping to deliver it.

Andy Roberts, Executive Principal of Ashington Learning Partnership stated “Pupils have been assisting with the latest batch of 3D test prints of visors, face shields and surgical mask retainers. The 3D printers from Bothal and Central Primary Schools have been working overtime for the past two weeks, to help create the vital equipment.
“The staff and children wanted to help and it made sense to use the existing technology equipment to engage in a meaningful educational programme during lockdown. To be making equipment to help their country will be memorable for them and makes us all feel very proud.” 

But it’s not just schools and big businesses that are helping. Individuals who have the equipment have been playing their part and making a difference too.

Michelle Williams who works for Northumberland County Council has a 3D printer at home. She and her husband have been producing mask straps which take the strain off the ears when workers are wearing face masks during their shifts. 

Michelle said:  “Although they are not PPE as such, they make a huge difference to the wellbeing of the staff who are wearing them.  I have already delivered 450 straps to
Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington and am now working on the next batch.”

Jake Towers from Blyth has been using his eleven printers to make 260 face shields a day. He said “We want to help out as much as we can and we are very happy to be able to play our part.  Friends, relatives and complete strangers, both from the UK and abroad, have been supporting our efforts by contributing to crowdfunding to raise money for the materials for the equipment which we are providing free of charge to the NHS. Others have helped with delivery, so it’s been a real team effort.”

Red Engineering in Hexham which specialises in the offshore oil and gas and nuclear decommissioning industries, is also lending its support.

Lindsay Lowes, Officer Manager said: “During our day to day work we are very used to responding to new and unusual challenges. Given our inhouse 3D printing capability, we saw the production of visors as an area where we could immediately provide support, but would be happy to apply our expertise to other related engineering challenges as the campaign against COVID19 continues.

So far we have distributed visors locally to QE Gateshead, The RVI, Hexham Hospital, Community Nursing Teams working across Northumberland and North Tyneside, the North East Ambulance Service and GP Surgeries in the North Tyne area.”

Morpeth teacher, Helen McIntyre and her husband set about forming a Gofundme page #PPE4NE and Facebook Page  PPE for NE  to source protective equipment. She  said: 
“ The traditional supply chains were not meeting the needs of healthcare workers. With the help of local volunteers we set about sourcing non-traditional suppliers of PPE  and get emergency equipment out to people on the frontline. 

“ We first raised £2000 from kind donations made by people across the northeast. We spent this on 500 face visors (Covisor), 250 Category 3  coveralls, 200 face masks and eye protection. On top of this we have called local businesses to ask if they would be able donate PPE from their store room. From this we picked up 600 coveralls, 500 disposable aprons, 40 respirators, 2000 disposable gloves and 20 pairs of chemical gloves. This has been distributed to local carers, care homes, pharmacists, nurses, GPS and to Northumbria NHS Trust.”

A huge thank you to:
  • Ashington Academy
  • Bedlington Academy
  • Northumberland College
  • Bothal Primary School
  • Central Primary School
  • Queen Elizabeth High School
  • Berwick Academy
  • Meadowdale Academy
  • Hexham First School
  • Glendale Middle School has provided material that are being used by: Royal Grammar School, Newcastle and Benfield School
  • RED Engineering in Hexham
  • Jake Towers and family in Blyth
  • Michelle Williams
  • Thompsons of Prudhoe
  • Lynemouth Power Station for donating 170 bottles of hand sanitizer
  • The Iron Lady at Low Prudhoe is making material face masks for £3 and donating the money raised to the local food bank
  • Egger Uk for their kind donation of 50 protective masks to Dene Grange care home 
  • PPE4NE has received donations of equipment  from: Alexander Painting and Sandblasting - Hebburn, Chirmarn - Newburn, Pattinson Scientific - Newcastle, Selecta Panel - Wallsend, Blastmagic- Shiremoor
If you are part of the army of Northumberland volunteers working to produce PPE equipment, we’d love to hear from you - please message us at:
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