Coronavirus, Crowdfunding & 3D Printing: A local Surrey family is crowdfunding and printing vital PPE for NHS workers

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Coronavirus, Crowdfunding & 3D Printing: A local Surrey family is crowdfunding and printing vital PPE for NHS workers

In times of crises, there are always people who stand out in history. They are the ones who refuse to sit back and feel daunted and overwhelmed by what they see on the news each day. Instead, they look to their own skills and abilities and how they can make a positive difference to a world that is ever-changing.

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Simon Clarke is one of those people who has stepped up and offered his help. As a local Scout leader in Dorking, Surrey, he has strong beliefs in helping other people and having the courage to face any difficulties that lie in his path. By trade, Simon is a freelance IT Consultant, albeit one with numerous hobbies. With the lack of PPE being available to NHS workers, Simon looked to his 3D printer and has turned his hobby into creating visors that he is distributing to healthcare providers.

From an initial query of making visors for a handful of doctors, Simon is now using three 3D printers in his home to make over 120 visors per day. So far, Simon has distributed over 600 visors to GPs, hospitals, nursing homes, midwives and other healthcare providers. He has purchased two additional printers to maintain output and has already decided to donate them to schools once the crisis is over.

Simon believes in both community and family support. His wife fixes the printers whilst his children are able to notice when something has gone wrong as well as cleaning them so that they are ready for the next batch. He maintains that what they do together “is a family thing and it shows the children that we each can do something for our community in times of need.”

The visor design that Simon uses has been approved in Sweden and several other countries. They take 30 minutes to print, not only are they fast to make, they are also made of a special plastic called PLA (Polylactic Acid) which means they fully biodegrade within 12 months of being outside. After they have completed their batch, the family clean, sanitise and bag them up, ready to be taken to NHS frontline staff.

Simon has received only positive responses from the community. Dr Rawson at Brockham surgery says, “Simon is amazing- these visors are fantastic! He delivered a supply to Brockham surgery and we were able to immediately give them to the staff at one of our nursing homes where they are dealing with a Covid outbreak. The nurses and caterers were so grateful as they had been nursing patients with inadequate PPE. This gives them much better protection. Thank you!” 

A coroner also shared his gratitude with Simon: ‘I just got my face shield, thank you so much. You have no idea how grateful I am. I’ve got full PPE for embalming, except a face shield and they’re practically impossible to get hold of at the moment. You’ve really changed lives by this small and kind gesture. Amazing how sometimes, one tiny little thing can have such a big impact on the world around you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.’ 

Simon is funding his efforts in tackling the growing concern over lack of PPE for staff through Crowdfunding. He has a high demand for the visors. Whilst the materials cost 60p each, he has bought the printers for £750 and filament for £300. He will continue to make the visors which take time, effort and money.

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Through Simon’s hard work and dedication, we should each be inspired to make a difference. Whether this means donating money, volunteering time or finding that hidden skill that could save lives, we all have our part to play and opportunity to help.

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