Argyll adapts in face of coronavirus threat

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People in Argyll are adapting in remarkable ways in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health and social care staff and volunteers are going above and beyond in the front line, while support groups have sprung up to reinforce council and government agencies.

Businesses, too, have changed in tough trading conditions following the lockdown.

Distillers around Argyll are adapting to put their equipment to good use making alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

Su Black, Beinn an Tuirc’s head distiller, with a bottle of the alcohol-based hand sanitiser

Beinn an Tuirc Distillery, creators of Kintyre Gin; distillers behind Isle of Bute gin and Bruichladdich Distillery on Islay, home of The Botanist gin, in collaboration with Spirited Soaps, are among the craft gin makers distributing the sought-after product as supplies of hand soaps and sanitisers run low.

Kilmory-based acrylics firm Midton is producing face shields for NHS staff. The vital equipment will go to nearby hospitals, with Mid Argyll Hospital requesting an initial run of 1,000 shields.

Midton director Graham Ramsay said: ‘We produced three prototypes that were put to Mid Argyll and Oban hospitals for discussion. The different designs were created to use stock we already have at the factory, however, our stocks are limited and purchasing more materials is getting harder and harder.

‘We thank everyone who has already donated sheets of acetate and film and further donations would be greatly appreciated. We are also looking for firm foam/dura foam and 10-20mm elastic, preferably button hole. All donations can be left in our blue paper bin.

An example of the type of face shield Midton can manufacture

‘We have a volunteer production team ready to start and a volunteer in Tayvallich who is 3D printing units from his house to help produce more. Any other 3D print hobbyists with home printers who would like to help should email’

Frustrated at the speed of supply of protective equipment for health and care workers, a Strachur GP has started making face masks with his 3D printer – and he is also looking for help.

Dr Robbie Coull said: ‘The government seems to have been slow to react. We are told supplies are coming but there is still a shortage of protective equipment nationally.

‘I was looking for a design and found one invented by a doctor based at Billings Clinic in Montana. They are washable. All you need to do is replace the filter every time.

Dr Robbie Coull is looking for help to make protective masks

‘What I now need is people with 3D printers to get involved in making these masks,’ added Dr Coull.

To find out more, contact Dr Coull by email or via twitter @DrRCoull.

On the roads of Argyll, despite having to operate a reduced bus service, West Coast Motors is offering free bus travel for all NHS workers. This is available by presenting a valid NHS card to the driver.

The bus operator is also offering a delivery service for those most vulnerable. Volunteer support groups and businesses are encouraged to contact area managers to co-ordinate this service for those they are helping.

Courier business AM Transport is also offering its services free to anyone in need. A spokesperson said: ‘We can collect and deliver your shopping order to your home and if there are other issues you may be facing, we will do our best to offer help where we can.’

Call the company’s head office on 01546 554270 or, out of hours, director Ewan McIlroy can be reached on 07717 817395.

And there are many more firms doing good work for the community.

If you know of people showing innovation and resilience in the COVID-19 crisis, let us know at