Scrubbing In

How Tusting is contributing to the Covid-19 Cause
and helping the NHS with the PPE Shortage

Whilst we may have been forced to down tools on our leather goods production in recent weeks, the Tusting workshop has nonetheless been a hive of activity at times, thanks to the volunteer efforts of our lovely staff and their commitment to helping the Covid-19 cause and the frontline workers at Bedford Hospital.

Our team has already cut hundreds of scrub sets, to be made up by the local sewing community, and this week they have commenced work on surgical gowns too. In order to accomplish the task of cutting a large volume of gowns, company chief, Alistair Tusting, went over to the workrooms of our sister company, Budd Shirtmakers in Andover at the weekend where, assisted by a few heavy lifters, he promptly dismantled the company’s band knife machine and transported it back to our Lavendon HQ in order to borrow it for the job – a Herculean feat!

The Tusting team is now in the throes of cutting 1000 surgical gowns from non-woven textile which has been donated to the cause by Zhagum Arshad’s Loft 25 Ltd, a Birmingham-based furnishings company which has also been contributing hugely to the NHS cause in their hometown.

These will be disposable gowns for single-use purposes, and this will be swiftly followed by over 500 machine washable gowns, made possible thanks to the efforts of the historic Scottish fabric company, and the long-term supplier of our own canvas fabrics, Halley Stevensons.

Halley has a global reputation for its robust fabrics, especially its waxed cotton materials, but as the scale of the Covid-19 crisis and the shortage of PPE equipment became apparent, its fabric-finishing processes have been diverted from their typical work, to the production of specialist cloths, pioneered to meet the specific health and safety needs of hospital workers.

Halley Stevenson was contacted by Tayside NHS Hospital and Dundee University to produce cloth that would be suitable for the manufacture of 5000 pairs of scrubs, also to be made locally. The fabric needed for these had to be cool, durable, and suitable to withstand the stringent laundering process required for such garments. After just a week and a half of development and testing, a densely woven 140g Supima cotton was selected and sanforised. This is a heat and pressure-driven shrinkage process which compacts and stabilises the cloth so that it can stand up washing at high temperatures. Appropriately, the cloth has been christened Tayside Teal.

Scrubs fabric achieved, the next requirement was for a cloth that could be used for surgical gowns. Ordinarily made as disposable PPE garments, today’s critical shortages have called for innovative gowns that can be worn multiple times. By taking the Tayside Teal fabric, applying a water repellent finish and then re-sanforising it, Halley Stevenson has succeeded in producing a cloth that can withstand up to 12 washes and yet retain full water repellency. This has been trialled successfully by the local NHS laundry at Tayside and the first batch of cloth has now been delivered to Tusting. So, our team is now busy cutting both disposable and reusable gowns.

The unfaltering commitment shown by our NHS and all of its employees, as well as other frontline and key workers across the land, has inspired in us not only a sense of pride, unity and compassion but a need to give back and make our own positive contribution to the cause. Our thanks go not only to our own lovely staff for their wholehearted enthusiasm, but also to the huge and expanding team of stitchers, Bedford Hospital Charity & Friends, Queens Park Community Orchard, Colum and Eric Masih and Dr Robert Oakley who have all thrown their weight behind coordinating this project.

We are so pleased to be able to provide assistance to the frontline community as best we can and for as long as is required but hope, for the sake of all of us, that our role will be short-lived, and that normal service will resume as quickly as possible, signalling better times ahead. Stay well, stay safe.


Stop Press!

We thought we would share this certificate, awarded to Tusting by the High Sheriff of Bedfordshire in recognition of our services to the community and the Bedford Hospital. We were honoured and flattered by the surprise arrival of this, though our contribution is nothing compared to the dedication of the amazing front line workers that we’re helping to protect.

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