A Model Example For Helping The NHS.

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Translink Express helps model railway attraction gather steam to provide PPE to the front line…

A popular Leicestershire tourist attraction has transformed its model-making workshop into a production line for fastenings to secure protective face masks for front line health workers at hospitals in the East Midlands.

Soar Valley Garden Railway may be closed to the public because of the coronavirus crisis, but the small enterprise is far from running out of steam when it comes to using its 3D printer to provide personal protection equipment (PPE) and, with more than a little help from Narborough-based Translink Express Logistics, a member of the Pallet-Track network, delivering thousands of the surgical face mask ‘grips’ free of charge, to help keep NHS staff safe.

Based in the garden of Bonington’s Tea Room and Gift Shop in Sutton Bonington, Loughborough, close to the borders with Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, Soar Valley Garden Railway has now become a collection and distribution hub, as well as a quality control centre for the vital mask grips.

A team of 11 volunteers are also using their machines to step up the delivery effort to the Loughborough Partnership Trust Hospitals, Nottingham University Hospitals and Derby Hospitals.

It has also set up a crowdfunding page to fund more materials for other PPE equipment, including ear protectors which prevent chafing from elastic fastenings. It has made more than 5,000 of these so far.

Martin Paling, workshop manager at Soar Valley, said: “We’d seen that a young boy in Canada had 3D printed ear protectors for his local hospital and, as our business is closed due to Covid-19, we decided to turn our machines to making them too. My wife works at Loughborough Hospital and asked her colleagues if they’d like some and we quickly went from 100 orders on the first day to 2,000 on the second day.

“Doctors and nurses were telling us their ears were starting to bleed and one nurse told us it was like winning the lottery after coping with a week of pain.

“It wasn’t long before we were swamped with orders from all of the different hospital wards and departments, so started talking to the procurement offices at Nottingham and Leicestershire Hospitals to help streamline distribution.

“The final piece of the jigsaw was having Translink Express offering to deliver to the hospitals for free.”

Chris Hobbis, commercial director at Translink, said: “After hearing about the excellent work that the guys from Soar Valley Garden Railway were doing for the NHS from one of our drivers Andy Bootles, we were more than happy to help.

“I initially spoke with Andy to find out what this project was all about and in no time at all I knew that we should try and do something to assist. He put me in contact with Martin from Soar Valley who inspired me further with his concept to help the NHS.

“Without a second thought we agreed to help deliver the goods to the hospitals so that the team at Soar Valley could focus on manufacturing the products and getting on with their continued efforts to support the NHS.

“The NHS is doing an outstanding job as always and people like Soar Valley Garden Railways are truly inspirational to us all.”

To make a donation to the crowdfunding page, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/martin-paling.

For more information about Pallet-Track and its members, visit www.pallet-track.co.uk.

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