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The Elizabethan Academy in Retford have been putting their design and technology skills to the test in a huge effort to help protect local NHS and care workers. 

On a daily basis, the school produces protective personal equipment (PPE), with the latest cumulative amount totalling 1500 masks and 200 wash bags, which they have donated to more than 25 care homes, GP surgeries, hospitals, hospices and food banks. This effort has now been boosted thanks to a donation of a new laser cutting machine donated by EDF’s local power stations West Burton A, West Burton B and Cottam.

Elizabethan Academy Principal Mrs Horrocks has been instrumental in securing the new equipment via the Nottinghamshire Bid Board community which has also helped with technical advice and support and material donations in addition to the new equipment. “It has been a great community effort, with the new laser cutter significantly raising the amount of PPE face visors we are able to make to 400 per day. Not only are the teachers pitching in, but around 30 children of key workers who are currently attending school and helping to assemble the masks and laundry bags, which is benefiting the local community and in some cases the parents and relatives of our pupils.” 

“We have been overwhelmed by the demand for the PPE we are producing,” continued Mrs Horrocks. “Our focus at first was towards local Bassetlaw services, but we soon saw the requests coming in from the neighbouring counties of Yorkshire and Derbyshire care services, who all needed extra help.

“It was an emotional moment for us all when we received the news that EDF were buying the new equipment we so desperately needed. Our old laser cutter was more than ten years old and needed fixing quite often. We are so keen to support our wonderful front line staff in any way we can and this will have a huge impact. I am so proud and humbled by people’s responses including the teachers, students and their families and the support we have received from local business like EDF.”

Andy Powell, Plant Manager at West Burton B added: “We just knew we had to help when we heard of the amazing effort the volunteers at Elizabethan Academy were doing to help front line workers stay safe at work. They are doing a wonderful job. The three stations were able to join forces with community funding to provide them with the equipment they so desperately needed. As they say, we are all in this together and we are proud to play our part in keeping the lasers cutting.”

PPE production is not the only action currently happening at the Elizabethan Academy. The school has been busier than ever during the time of lockdown, with 150 disadvantaged students receiving a welfare check-in plus free school meals via minibus. They also get their school work delivered as they may not have access to technology to be able to complete their work online. 

 Once the emergency effort to make PPE for local nursing, health and care staff ends, the school will use the laser cutting equipment as a teaching resource, helping to bring new skills to the young people of Retford.