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Hats off to those helping to protect our frontline staff


By John Davidson

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Karen-Ann Dicken and her 3D printer.Karen creates proziers,black strip attachment for face masks which prevent misting.Picture: Gary Anthony.
Karen-Ann Dicken and her 3D printer.Karen creates proziers,black strip attachment for face masks which prevent misting.Picture: Gary Anthony.

Personal protective equipment for frontline staff – including those working in the NHS and social care – has been high on the agenda during the coronavirus pandemic.

With workers raising serious concerns about the supply of such vital equipment, companies and communities have been stepping in to help do their bit.

Some of the people involved have been recognised by readers as Community Champions.

Karen-Ann Dicken was nominated after she featured in a story for printing face masks for staff at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness as well as at care homes and GP surgeries in the area.

Karen, a jewellery designer and art and design lecturer at Inverness College UHI, is involved in the 3D Print for Covid-19 Highlands group, which has raised thousands of pounds through a crowdfunder to produce the equipment.

One nomination for Karen said she had been working 14-hour days to help print the kit and get it to frontline workers, adding that what she was doing was "amazing".

“We are just full-on printing kit,” Karen said. “It’s just a case of producing the stuff and getting it out there.

“It’s been absolutely brilliant. There has been some really good support and we’ve had some really good donations.”

Another person put forward for similar work is described as a "popular and inspirational teacher" from Wick High School in Caithness.

Computing science teacher Chris Aitken was approached by a healthcare worker about printing face masks and guards while he was off work due to the nationwide schools shutdown.

Chris Aitken used his skills to help produce masks.
Chris Aitken used his skills to help produce masks.

He says they take around three-and-a-half hours to print, but after putting out an appeal on Facebook donations came in to purchase a second printer and boost production.

Meanwhile, Margaret Mackay has contacted us from Alberta, Canada.

She said: "A very good friend of mine from Muir of Ord, Kyrene Petrie, told me about herself and a few others cutting up donated fabric and sewing 50 medical gowns from home.

"I read your Facebook page every morning. Thank you for helping us stay informed. I have been travelling to the Muir area for 40-plus years."

We will feature more of your Community Champions next week.



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