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Coronavirus: Birchwood High School teaching staff make visors for Bishop's Stortford health workers

Nurses treating patients in Bishop’s Stortford wept with gratitude when Birchwood High School’s science and technology team created safety visors for them.

The medics are desperate for PPE – personal protective equipment – as they care for the sick in the community during the coronavirus crisis.

Birchwood stepped in after a plea from Stortford's Church Street surgery, which is part of the Stort Valley and Villages Primary Care Network. The group also includes the South Street and Parsonage practices in Stortford, Sawbridgeworth's Central Surgery in Bell Street and Much Hadham Health Centre. Together they care for more than 63,000 people.

Mask proudction at Birchwood High School (32386798)
Mask proudction at Birchwood High School (32386798)

Church Street practice nurse Michelle Shanahan contacted Birchwood head Dr Chris Ingate with a blueprint for a plastic visor suitable for GPs and practice, community and district nurses dealing with the sick who are potentially infected with Covid-19.

The original plans called for 3D printing, but John Stephens, head of technology at the Parsonage Lane secondary, and fellow teacher Roger Newman adapted the design to save production time and the school whipped up ten prototypes for inspection by the nurses.

Michelle said her colleagues were overwhelmed after trialling the results. “It means so much that they will have some protection now, and it shows that they have people who care about them and their situation,​” she said.

Mask proudction at Birchwood High School (32386800)
Mask proudction at Birchwood High School (32386800)

By Wednesday morning (March 25), the first batch of 25 rolled off the production line thanks to the hard work of Roger and John, fellow teacher Charlie-Maud Munro, science technician Kay Farrell and design and technology technician Paul Osbourne.

Each mask takes around ten minutes to craft and, by the end of Wednesday, the aim was to manufacture 100.

John had feared that would be the end of their efforts as materials ran out, but he told the Indie: “We've just heard back from one of our main suppliers, Tilgear from Standon, who are delivering some more supplies for us today. They're donating some of the PVC for the shield part of the mask for free.”

He added: “We're also donating our goggles from technology plus around 300 from the science department.”

Birchwood has made its mask design available to the town's other secondaries and The Bishop’s Stortford High School has already joined the manufacturing effort.

The team has also sent its methodology to the Design and Technology Association (DATA) to see if it can be distributed further and help others.

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