Racing silks business helping to provide NHS with equipment

Sun 10 May 2020

Staff at a racing silks maker have provided hundreds of set of scrubs as a gift to the NHS during the coronavirus crisis.

Oxfordshire-based Allertons contacted NHS Central after racing was suspended in March to see if they could use their skills to supply products that would benefit medical professionals on the frontline.

South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust (SWFT) responded to their call and after meetings and sample tests, it placed an order of 800 garments for its four hospitals – Warwick, Leamington Spa, Stratford, and Shipton-on-Stowe.

Staff at Allertons volunteered to manufacture the items, including working on weekends and bank holidays, and the 14 volunteers have so far produced around 400 sets of scrubs.

Valerie Quelch, assistant general manager of hotel services for SWFT, said: “We are extremely grateful for everything Allertons have done.

“They have produced something for us which is of a high quality and has been truly, truly appreciated by the staff here. The scrubs are really well-made and are a fantastic fit, we’ve had nothing but positive feedback.

“Following the outbreak of COVID-19, everyone was after scrubs and they were extremely hard to get a hold of, so NHS Trusts were coming up with measures to get more into the system.

“The supply didn’t completely dry up, but it was much slower than it normally would be with such high demand, so the Allertons garments have proven to be very helpful. Each week we have had a steady supply coming through.

“A large group of final year medical students were seconded to SWFT to assist and ease pressure on our Junior doctors during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The team that arrived with us has all passed their final year exams and were due to commence their careers as junior doctors in August. We have been able to use the Allertons stock to clothe every single one of those doctors.”

Allertons usually produce bespoke racing silks that are individually cut and sewn, so the volunteers have had to adjust to different fabrics for the scrubs, with the team adhering to social distancing guidelines at all times and splitting themselves into two separate teams, including people working at home, so there are less people in the workshop.

Managing director Adrian Wray said: “The staff here at Allertons have been incredible, they’ve pretty much done it off their own back.

“They found the fabric, raised the order for the fabric and got it delivered, and they have all volunteered their furlough time to create the patterns, cut the fabric, iron all of the components, machine them together, pack them and drive them up to Warwick Hospital.

“As a business, it’s lovely to be able to turn our hand to something that is useful and supportive while contributing to the national effort. As volunteers, they feel the same way, but it has also given them a focus to do something positive.

“They’ve all been marvellous at the way they have managed to organise their family life, getting to work, and finding time to be able to do this, it’s been a total team effort.”

Racing administrators Weatherbys are also doing their bit to help the NHS by offering people the chance to donate in return for a smartphone lockscreen of their favourite racing colours.

A minimum donation of £2 is required for each wallpaper or lockscreen, with all proceeds going to the NHS.

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