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Two former Bishop's Stortford College students create StopTheSpread Solutions to provide face masks and hand sanitiser in touch-free vending machines

Two best friends who met at Bishop's Stortford College have launched a company to help people get back out and about with confidence in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.

Henry Farrelly and Edward Banner-Eve have known each other for 10 years after sharing a room when they boarded at the Maze Green Road independent school.

Now 23, Farrelly runs property management firm Farrelly Property Services while Banner-Eve is a professional polo player who has represented England and spends parts of the year competing in Pakistan and Argentina.

Henry Farrelly, left, and Edward Banner-Eve (39442693)
Henry Farrelly, left, and Edward Banner-Eve (39442693)

The pandemic has inspired them to go into business together and they have set up StopTheSpread Solutions to provide companies and public sector organisations with fully contactless vending machines which dispense high-quality hand sanitiser and face masks to members of the public.

Managing director Farrelly and executive director Banner-Eve, who have employed 25 staff, are currently running the business from the former's home office in Henham, with plans for an imminent move to a warehouse in Bishop's Stortford. In the team are staff dealing with sales, administration, restocking the machines and maintenance.

The friends designed the bespoke vending machines, which are manufactured in the UK, and have already placed 100, with plans to have 1,000 in venues such as shopping centres, gyms, pubs and council buildings by the end of the year.

A Stop the Spread vending machine (39943714)
A Stop the Spread vending machine (39943714)

People using the vending machines simply tap their payment card and hover a finger over their preferred option of gel, mask or both. The products come out of a door, meaning no surfaces have to be touched by the user.

All StopTheSpread products satisfy UK and EU requirements for PPE (personal protective equipment) and the company holds CPNP and ISO Guard Certification for its products.

StopTheSpread's smart software manages stock levels remotely so the team can seamlessly replenish machines with products and PPE remains readily available.

They will install and maintain all machines free of charge and offer profit share to reward location owners for accommodating the machines, alongside covering any utility costs.

"Living through a pandemic has been difficult for so many and with the threat of Covid-19 likely to remain, we wanted to do something to help protect people from transmission," said Farrelly.

"StopTheSpread makes it easier for people to safely access PPE products when on the move through completely contactless vending, whether they're out shopping, heading to the gym or catching a train. So, if you forget to take a mask out with you, you can pick one up through our machines.

"Our face masks and hand sanitisers meet stringent NHS and Government health standards and will soon be available through no-touch vending at shopping malls, leisure centres and gyms and more.

"With more businesses opening up and masks becoming mandatory, it's vital that PPE can be easily accessed without adding further risk."

The company also has good green credentials. To limit its environmental impact, StopTheSpread supplies energy-efficient machines, operates through a fleet of electric-only vehicles, uses environmentally-friendly packing and is a paperless business.

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