A group of over 30 volunteers in Rugby have come together to produce and deliver 1029 face visors to nurses, paramedics and care staff in Rugby by the 22nd of April 2020!

The Rugby PPE Response initiative started when Dr Keith Edgar, a recently retired GP, volunteered to return to work and met up with Jo Thomas, a Higher Level Teaching Assistant at Bilton C of E Junior School, and discovered that Jo had started using the school’s 3D printer to produce visors.  Keith enlisted Gordon & Jane Hutchison from Monks Kirby and Wendy Garner, Head of school at Coventry University Department of Engineering and soon the team were producing approximately 300 visors per week. 

The next step was to organise distribution to the care homes and nurses who were not then the critical care front line priority of the government! So Keith persuaded the team at the Westside Medical Centre to help by acting as the distribution hub.  Keith then reached out to Willy Goldschmidt, Chairman of the Friends of St Cross and asked him to spread the word and to use some funds donated by a friend of Keith’s to purchase some of the raw materials for the makers.

Willy enlisted the volunteers and supporters some of whom are now producing visors and others are driving to collect finished visors and distribute them to various locations.

Keith said “It has been amazing that from a standing start we have distributed over 1,000 visors into some 30 care settings, What a way to celebrate St George’s Day! Thanks to the Friends we have recruited another 5 producers and a fantastic donation of visors from Aston Martin.

We are now ready to launch our website www.rugby-PPE-Response.org.uk so that we can enlist more producers and better establish the local need.  Our next steps will be to see what we can do to produce gowns which are in such high demand!!!”

Kellie Preece, the Practice Manager at Westside Medical Centre, said “My team and I are very proud to have been a part of this project since the very beginning.  Jo contacted us asking if we could make use of the shields that she had made on her 3D printer and we gratefully received them. 

Keith is one of our GP's. He is key in all of this. With his drive, enthusiasm and links with local businesses and the Friends of St. Cross, this project quickly escalated and through the fantastic links Westside has with other local frontline services, we have arranged for hundreds of the masks to be deployed to services including District Nursing, Care Homes, local Paramedics, and The Hospital of St Cross Blood Taking Unit.” 

Carl Dibsdale, Director of Design Operations at Aston Martin, said "when we heard of the shortage of visors for the front line we looked for ways in which we could help and developed a prototype face visor. So when we were contacted by both the Friends of St Cross and an industry contact with a request to support the community in Rugby we were delighted to help with a donation of over 200 visors."

Jane Jennings, Domiciliary Administrator at the Care Bureau in Rugby, contacted the group as a result of the initial publicity and we quickly responded by providing her team of carers, who visit the frail and elderly in their homes, with a supply of 50 visors. Jane said “We thank you so much for providing these for us – our carers are very grateful for them. They all love the variety of colours!! We wish you much success for the future!”

Willy Goldschmidt, Chairman of The Friends of St Cross, said “It has been amazing how the community has responded. We reached out to Lewis Flavell, a lecturer at Warwickshire College in Rugby, who when he was a student, helped us design our current website. Lewis kindly volunteered to develop a website for the Rugby PPE Response and it is up and running after just a few days! 

A member of the public contacted the Friends through our Facebook page and offered to make scrubs wash bags for nurses so they can take their uniforms home safely to be washed. We now have 14 stitchers making these bags and a veritable army of supporters standing by when we can source material to make gowns!!!

We feel honoured to have been asked to support this initiative and to help by purchasing some of the raw materials for the visor production line. After all we are the independent local charity which supports the Hospital of St Cross and the Community Service in Rugby and we have looked on this as a major community initiative! Unfortunately, we are not eligible to benefit from the monies donated to NHS Charities Together for reasons to do with the constitution of that organisation!”