Wingrove Motor Company has turned its main distribution centre over to the NHS to make personal protective equipment.
The Groupe PSA UK partner was approached about supporting Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust as it looked to make more equipment available to frontline staff as they tackled the Covid-19 pandemic.
The family-owned firm offered its 14,400 sq ft distribution centre and warehouse on the Nelson Industrial Estate in Cramlington, and the Wingrove team got it ready in just 48 hours.
NHS engineers will now put in the machinery and equipment that will make up to 7,500 protective gowns a week.
These will initially go to staff in the north-east of England, but as production increases, they will be distributed more widely across the UK. The initiative is in place for three months but could be extended.
Wingrove managing director Josh Parker said: ‘We’re all in awe of the incredible work being done by NHS staff across the north-east in the most difficult of conditions, and it’s a real honour and a privilege for us to be able to support them in this way.
‘Our team has done a fantastic job preparing our distribution centre in such a short space of time, and work is now ongoing to get the production line up and running as quickly as possible.
‘We very much hope this project makes a real contribution to the health and well-being of people living in the communities that we’re proud to have been part of for almost a century.’
Sir James Mackey, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘We are receiving PPE through the national NHS supply chain, but we know there is a huge demand for supplies globally, which is a challenge.
‘This extra support is vital to keeping stocks flowing as we use thousands of pieces of equipment every day across the region.
‘The new facility in Cramlington and the wider support we have from businesses means we can manage supply, from design to the front line.
Also helping to get things going has been Sarah Rose, managing director of textile sourcing and production consultancy firm Lucas Jacob, who has given advice and support to the trust, and has brought businesses on board to get the facility open.
She said: ‘NHS staff are doing such an amazing job in these really difficult times, so for me it’s a real honour to be able to help and to see the business community pull together at what is a hard time for them too. The response has been incredible.’
Pictured from left are Sir James Mackey, Sarah Rose, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust finance director Paul Dunn and Josh Parker