Teaching staff at Rivers Academy have shown their support for the NHS by paying for and producing two dozen complete sets of scrubs and hundreds of visors for doctors and nurses battling coronavirus at local hospitals.

The decision by staff to step forward and help by raising hundreds of pounds and giving up their time and skills was made after they were alerted to a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) by friends or through Facebook groups.

Kathrine Richards, Arts Co-ordinator and a trained textiles teacher, spotted a call to arms on a local neighbourhood page about the need for scrubs and sewed 10 days straight during the Easter school break.

Husband Peter cut the pattern pieces and left her to stitch the garments. The pair paid almost £150 out of their own pockets to buy the material and other accessories needed.

Mrs Richards said: ‘’I wanted to help because I’m in a position to be able to help. I do not have any young children to look after and I had the time during the Easter school holidays and I felt I could use it to show my support for the NHS.

‘’It has been exhausting! My hands ached everyday – until you do something like that on a continuous basis you don’t realise how hard it can be.’’

The two dozen complete sets of scrubs were handed to volunteer group Scrubs, Glorious Scrubs and distributed to medical staff at hospitals including Frimley, Ashford and St Peter’s.

Chi Lin Wong, a Senior Design Technology Technician at Rivers, realised she had the skills and the knowledge to help having come across a pattern posted by company Kitronik detailing how to create face shields using a laser cutter.

She initially made a handful using polypropylene sheets and PVC already available at the school and hand-delivered them to staff at Ashford hospital who were very grateful and pleaded for more.

It was then that Miss Wong, who lives in Ashford and has been at the school for more than three years, launched a fundraising drive in order to buy more material.

Almost £300 has been donated by teachers and staff and more than 400 face shields have been produced since early April. Miss Wong said using a laser cutter has proved to be cost-effective as it is less than 90p per mask and they take only five minutes to build.

She has also had help from a staff colleague and said her endeavour to support the NHS has been a team effort: ‘’The hospital is very grateful to us for the support that we have shown. The face shields are also being used by Ashford’s sister hospital St Peter’s in Chertsey which has a dedicated coronavirus unit. It’s lovely that the teachers have helped to pay for the shields.’’

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