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East Suffolk PPE team makes 3,000 items of PPE for frontline

PUBLISHED: 16:03 28 April 2020

East Suffolk PPE is producing face shields, scrubs and masks to distribute around East Anglia. Pictured: John White and Karen Graves producing PPE at Newton Commercial. Picture: TONY PICK

East Suffolk PPE is producing face shields, scrubs and masks to distribute around East Anglia. Pictured: John White and Karen Graves producing PPE at Newton Commercial. Picture: TONY PICK

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A team of 50 people in East Suffolk say they feel “really proud” to have made more than 3,000 items of PPE for frontline staff fighting the coronavirus crisis in East Anglia.

Frome left to right: Jonny Newton, Karen Graves, John White, Paul Rosher.  Picture: TONY PICKFrome left to right: Jonny Newton, Karen Graves, John White, Paul Rosher. Picture: TONY PICK

Beccles man Andy Gardiner was inspired to start the new East Suffolk PPE group after his son, Luke, went straight out onto the frontline driving ambulances during the pandemic.

Luke was supposed to start a 12-week training course to become an apprentice emergency care worker on April 6, but instead found himself starting shortly after a three-week emergency training course because of the crisis.

Mr Gardiner, who works part-time as a primary school teacher as well as running a business making wooden toys, said: “I’m immensely proud of him and everything he has done.

“Anything I can do to help everyone else is going to help keep him safe. So I suppose you could say that my reason for starting East Suffolk PPE was to help him and others in the same position.

East Suffolk PPE is producing face shields, scrubs and masks to distribute around East Anglia.  Picture: TONY PICKEast Suffolk PPE is producing face shields, scrubs and masks to distribute around East Anglia. Picture: TONY PICK

“I saw an article on Facebook about lasering face shields, and as I have a laser machine for my business I immediately purchased some materials to start working on them.

“At the same time, I saw a plea from nurses for anything to help relieve their ears from the constant rub and pressure of the masks, so I started making those as well.”

MORE: Plastic coatings firm staff pull out all the stops to keep up with protective equipment demand amid crisis

The effort grew to include nearby businesses, such as Newton Commercial, which normally produces classic car interiors and is now helping produce scrubs.

Saxon Packaging, in Calrton Colville, has donated cardboard boxes for PPE to be delivered in, while other businesses have carried out deliveries.

To pay for materials, a GoFundMe page was set up – which has now raised nearly £5,000. Grants from EDF’s Sizewell nuclear plants also contributed £2,000.

East Suffolk PPE now has a team of nearly 50 people producing face shields, scrubs and masks.

Find all of our coronavirus coverage here.

Members have delivered the protective equipment all over the east of England, including hospitals in Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex, as well as to GP surgeries and care homes.

Mr Gardiner said: “It’s hard to say how I feel at the moment. I just feel really proud that we’re doing what we can to help people.”

Donations and orders for PPE can be made here.

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