Mournes Businesses Move Mountains To Fight Coronavirus

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A Mournes business collective has come together and has gone onto a war footing in its battle against the coronavirus epidemic.

Local Mourne businesses are donating, manufacturing and re-purposing items for PPE equipment in the fight against COVID-19.

The business collective based in the Mournes area of County Down is working to donate, manufacture and convert raw materials into Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for local NHS services in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

Smyth’s Kilkeel have donated 800 Easter eggs for children in hospital.

To date, the collective has provided more than 1,500 medical masks, 10,500 metres of material (enough for 3,500 sets of scrubs), and through support from the Kilkeel Chamber of Commerce will purchase a further 5,000 masks this week.

However, in order to meet the growing need for PPE across local hospitals in the local area, the collective are calling on more Northern Ireland businesses and households to donate items which can be converted into much needed medical protection items.

Bedwin Furnishings is providing reams of material to make PPE for local front line staff.

The business collective comprises of companies and organisations including Sea Source; Campbell Snowflake Girls; Heartbeat NI, Angeline Murphy (great British sewing bee 2016), Collins Aerospace; and Kilkeel Seafood, and is being driven by a number of inspirational local business men and women including Chris Wallace of Kilkeel-based firm Bedwin Soft Furnishings.

Chris spoke about his involvement in the project and gratitude to the NHS following the treatment received by his son Charlie who at six months old was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, and is now recovering well.

He said: “My wife and I were at Great Ormond Street Hospital with Charlie when COVID-19 really entered the public consciousness. Our priority was to get home and get safe, however, as soon as we arrived home, stories about the lack of PPE available to the NHS really concerned me. Fortunately, working in the textiles business, I felt I was well positioned to help.

“I posted on social media letting people know we could help, and since then we have been inundated with requests for scrubs, masks and all types of materials.”

Kilkeel volunteers are sewing to support the fight against Covid-19.

Following their proactive efforts, Chris and other business people have been able to deliver items to Belfast Royal Hospital for Sick Children and Daisy Hill hospitals directly, and in addition to PPE, Smyth’s Toys donated 800 Easter eggs to try and provide a much needed boost to local NHS staff in the midst of the fight against the virus.

Integral to the business has been Kilkeel native Angeline Murphy, who gained acclaim on the great British sewing bee in 2016. Angeline has been working day and night sewing and creating PPE in collaboration with other Mournes businesses.

Angeline has also set up a gofundme page which is having a huge impact and helping to deliver additional funds to the cause

Chris added: “We are calling any available stitchers or sewers to join the effort that Mourne and the wider Northern Ireland community are making to provide much needed PPE at this time.

People can contact me directly or message the NI scrubs Facebook page which is doing a lot of the coordinating to make sure materials get to the right places. We’re hugely grateful local volunteers who are currently sewing, but we need more to properly support the NHS. ”

Chris’ son Charlie at six months old was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy which led to heart failure and a leaking heart valve. He subsequently spent one month in Royal Clark clinic and had been making great progress, however, in November was admitted back to hospital with suspected bronchitis. 

Charlie was then rushed to ICU in Belfast and diagnosed with Middle Aortic syndrome – this had never before been seen in a child on the island of Ireland. Charlie was then moved to London for speciality work in Great Ormond Street hospital. Thankfully, Charlie is again making a wonderful recovery, and whilst it is likely he will require two operations per year, he can look forward to a healthy and full life, because of the NHS.

Chris spoke of his admiration for the NHS: and added: “Our story with Charlie makes up a large part of my determination to help. This is why we are asking the local community to rally round our Great NHS. They don’t just do it during a global pandemic crisis, they are our heroes all year round. It’s our turn to help them.”

To contact the group or donate items, please visit:

‘NI Scrubs’ on Facebook

or email: chris@bedwinsoftfurnishing.com

See full list of contributions made by individual Mournes businesses so far:

·         Kilkeel Chamber of Commerce has donated £3800 to buy 5000 masks

·         Seasource has provided funds for 700 masks

·         Campbell Snowflake Girls has donated 300 masks

·         Kilkeel Seafood has donated 180 large Easter Eggs

·         Collins Aerospace have started manufacturing visors and are trialling lazer cutting scrub patterns

·         Bedwin Soft Furnishings: 3000 metres of fabric and 800 surgical masks 

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