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Our unsung heroes - from teenager making PPE to foodbank volunteers

PUBLISHED: 19:00 07 May 2020

Thomas Walker, 16, has created visors for the NHS at home Picture: MATTHEW WALKER

Thomas Walker, 16, has created visors for the NHS at home Picture: MATTHEW WALKER

Matthew Walker

Today we pay tribute to more of the unsung heroes making so much difference to our community during the coronavirus crisis.

A note sent by the High Sheriff of Suffolk to thank the Needham Market Coronavirus Support Group Picture: Supplied by Mid Suffolk District CouncilA note sent by the High Sheriff of Suffolk to thank the Needham Market Coronavirus Support Group Picture: Supplied by Mid Suffolk District Council

After hearing about the NHS’s shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), Thomas Walker, a 16-year-old student at Ipswich School, decided to help - and has produced 85 much-needed visors at home.

Thomas said: “I knew the huge shortage of PPE that this country was facing during this pandemic, and I knew that there were many models that people had designed to be 3D printed to combat this shortage.

“I downloaded a model from the internet and because I knew that any extra PPE would be vital to the NHS, I started making them immediately.”

The teenager set up his Creality Ender 3 Pro printer and printed remotely and through the night. He spent hours preparing everything and constructing the visors.

Thomas Walker, 16, has created visors for the NHS at home Picture: MATTHEW WALKERThomas Walker, 16, has created visors for the NHS at home Picture: MATTHEW WALKER

He said: “I gave 40 to my friend whose dad works in critical care at Ipswich Hospital, and I gave 30 to an organisation which distributes them to GPs and other care workers in Suffolk. I also gave 15 to my step-mum, who runs a team of carers that go into patients’ homes to help them there.”

Providing food to families during tough times

Meanwhile, Mid Suffolk District Council has paid its own tribute to the work of community champions- and has highlighted the work of the BOB Foodbank.

This temporary scheme to help people who need help with food has been set up by the new rector, the Rev Carl Melville, for the villages of Bacton, Wyverstone, Cotton, Wickham Skeith, Old Newton and Gipping.

The Rev Carl Melville, who has set up the BOB foodbank in Mid Suffolk Picture: ARCHANTThe Rev Carl Melville, who has set up the BOB foodbank in Mid Suffolk Picture: ARCHANT

Mr Melville said: “Providing food to families who might be struggling is just one way our villages have come together to help others. The neighbourhood schemes and other initiatives have been lifesavers to many. We have no criteria, as we realise people may need help for different things. All contact is confidential.”

Households can contact the rector directly on 01449 781650, to ask for a food parcel containing the basics and essentials.

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READ MORE - Meet the latest community heroes supporting Suffolk

Volunteers who go above and beyond

DJ Chris Walker is planning a 24-hour livestreamed set to help mental health charity MindDJ Chris Walker is planning a 24-hour livestreamed set to help mental health charity Mind

Another lifeline highlighted by Mid Suffolk is the Needham Market Coronavirus Support Group, which has co-ordinated 400 volunteers, as well as funding and delivering 5,000 leaflets to local residents containing a helpline number for those in need. Calls received have included requests to carry out food shopping, pick up prescriptions and send out letters on behalf of those who are self-isolating, in Needham Market and the surrounding villages.

The group has gone above and beyond, with one member donating a tablet to help a child’s home learning and another providing a cake to cheer up residents of a local care home.

Founder Tanya Alexanda said: “The volunteers are incredible. They are picking up much needed local care for their neighbours and I know friendships are being made. We recently received a handwritten note from the High Sheriff of Suffolk thanking us for the huge difference we are making.

“It was lovely to have acknowledgement for all our efforts but I’m a bit embarrassed about the attention. This isn’t an ego trip but a genuine desire to help and bring people together.”

Mid Suffolk District Council is offering grants of up to £2,500 to support groups with increased costs incurred as a cost of coronavirus, and has launched a #communitychampions social media campaign to encourage community groups to highlight what they are doing. To take part, tag @MidSuffolk in your social media posts so that these can be shared.

DJ’s 24-hour music marathon for charity

Essex DJ Chris Walker, based in Kelvedon, is planning a 24-hour charity DJ set from his kitchen, in aid of mental health charity Mind.

The livestreamed event will start at 10am on Saturday, May 16. Since the coronavirus lockdown began, Chris has been livestreaming his twice-weekly Stay Positive House Party, filled with nothing but happy, uplifting house and disco music, via Facebook and YouTube, and has gained an audience from around the world.

Chris said: “Mental health is an issue which affects many of us, including myself, and Coronavirus and the lockdown is going to have a big im-pact on the mental health of many others.”

To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/staypositivehouseparty

• Let us know about your community heroes. Email newsroom@archant.co.uk

READ MORE - Join our Suffolk Coronavirus Updates Facebook group here and sign up for our daily news alerts here.


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