'Vandyke Visors' giving reassurance to pharmacy workers in Leighton Buzzard during coronavirus crisis

Vandyke Upper School has come to the aid of pharmacy workers in Leighton Buzzard following an appeal for face protection masks during the coronavirus crisis.

By Steve Sims
Thursday, 2nd April 2020, 4:30 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd April 2020, 12:26 pm

With the country facing a shortage of personal protective equipment, Suzy Shaw, health care partner at Lloyds Pharmacy in Market Square, turned to her son's school for help.

And the school was only too happy to assist with Rosehill Pharmacy in the High Street also receiving specially-made 'Vandyke Visors' to give staff reassurance as they continue to serve the public. Other requests have now come in as word spreads of the school's good work, with Vandyke now appealing for donations so they can keep the production line going.

Mrs Shaw said: "I contacted my son's school last week to see if they had any visors in their science/DT department we could use. They then go back to me saying they’re happy to make us as many as we require. Mrs Hargreaves was happy to help and even asked if we knew of any other surgeries or pharmacies in Leighton Buzzard that needed some.

Lloyds Pharmacy staff with their new visors

"They arrived on Wednesday and are absolutely fantastic. We now feel safe to work in such a close environment."

Mrs Shaw said she had received many offers of help to man their door, with Guy Venner a regular volunteer who has been enforcing the two customers in the pharmacy policy. "He’s been keeping the customers in the queue outside entertained, reassured and maintaining the social distancing of 2 metres," she said.

"This has relieved pressure off one of the healthcare partners inside to carry on serving the patients quicker. Another of our regular volunteers has been Tim Abington."

The business has been inundated with prescriptions and she added: "We are hugely grateful for the help the community has offered and the patience of our loyal customers in these unprecedented times. We are trying our best to work with less staff - as some staff are self isolating.

Lloyds Pharmacy staff and their new visors

"The Leighton Linslade helpers group on Facebook has been set up and June Tobin [lead coordinator] has been sorting out volunteers to collect prescriptions for customers who are self isolating. What lovely people."

As well as Mrs Shaw, other grateful staff members are pharmacist Joseph Taple, plus Natalie Basham, Jo Butcher, Annie Bateman, Eva Patterson, Tom Wall, Adele Dixon, Ruth Jefferies and Christine Caldwell.

Vandyke headteacher Tim Carroll said: "When the school DT team heard about the need in town for face protection they were keen to help.

"The DT team has the design know-how and practical skills so having agreed the specification got to work and have been busy producing equipment that will hopefully be of practical help to those working face to face with the public.

Vandyke's DT team designed and made the masks

"Goggles we use with students in science labs have been donated to hospitals and other projects continue also. It is heartening to see everybody doing their best to contribute in whatever ways we can. Out of this horrible situation, a stronger sense of community may emerge. Best wishes to those working on the front-line."

Jacqui Hargreaves, Head of DT and Food at Vandyke Upper School, added: "We have made over 150 of these and they have gone to not just pharmacies but to the doctors surgeries, carers, police, care homes, midwifes at local hospitals and most sadly to three funeral homes who are dealing with Covid 19 cases with only gloves for protection!

"We have already got over 200 more that we hope to supply in the next few days and hope to continue production until we run out of the materials which we have in the department at school."

The school is appealing for donations to allow them to buy more materials so that the team can carry on providing masks to front line workers. Email [email protected]