Community Impact Award winners – The PPE Response Team

Winners of our Community impact award are the PPE Response Team for their design and manufacture of CE marked PPE free of charge to care homes, hospices and hospitals in Kent.  

Team members include: Kevin Smith, Technical Manager; Colin Cresser, Technical Specialist; Julien Soosaipillai, Technical Specialist (all Division of Arts & Humanities). Daniel Knox, IT & Technical Services Manager; Sarah Carey; Ryan Morrow, Technical Manager; Jon Foley, Technician; Antonio Mendoza, Technician; Keith Greenhow, Technical Specialist (Division of Computing, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences ); Andrew Brookman, Technical Manager (Electronics); Mark Wheadon (Computing Fellow); Marcus Wright, Head of Business Development; Paul Sinnock, Deputy Director; Lucy Druesne, GOETEC Partnership Manager (IS). Carole Barron, Director of KEI; and Lauren Keating, Business & Industry Relationship Officer (KEI).  

On receiving the award, Carole Barron said: ‘When someone tells you that the team has actually saved lives, it’s very humbling and reflects all the hard work of the team giving support at such a critical time.’ And Marcus Wright added: ‘It’s the first time that technicians have come together in such a way’ and sets a precedent for future collaboration across different team areas. 

Award nomination  

The award nomination recognises the team’s tireless work to produce PPE during the early part of the Covid-19 pandemic. The team of technicians across academic divisions and colleagues in Knowledge Exchange & Innovation produced almost 5,000 face visors, specialist ophthalmic breath screens and over 20,000 face mask ear protectors to stringent safety standards. Often working evenings and weekends, the team were able to design a prototype, source materials and create the University’s first cross-departmental manufacturing centre in just two weeks.  

As a result, donations came in from alumni and local business, including a single donation of £20,000 from Santander. There was also positive feedback from recipients of the PPE in the community. Sarah Martins, Senior Ward Sister at Pilgrims Hospice, Canterbury said: ‘Thank you to everyone involved in making this happen, it makes a huge difference to the patients and staff here at the Hospice and enables us to continue caring without compromising safety.’ Another recipient of face visors, Redkite, added: ‘Thank you is not enough, this will make sure we can continue our work as safely as possible.’ 

The award nomination notes: ‘This project was the first time that technicians from across multiple departments within the University had independently come together, utilised facilities and resources in a collaborative approach. The University’s Technical Services strategy is now designed to include projects to enhance collaborative technician working, to make technical skills, resources and facilities more available to the wider University and to further highlight the positive impact technical staff have on the University’s activities.  

‘The work of the KEI team alongside technicians was essential in facilitating connections with care homes, hospices and the NHS as well as enabling the fundraising activities, making this a truly collaborative project supporting our local communities.’ 

 Further recognition  

On the same day as our Staff Awards, the Covid-19 PPE Response Team found out that they had won the prestigious Papin Prize, the UK’s only awards dedicated to celebrating technical excellence and innovation in higher education and research. You can find out more on our News Centre story. 

Main picture shows: Lauren Keating, Carole Barron, Paul Sinnock and Marcus Wright at the Kent Staff Recognition Awards ceremony.