Steve Clarke hears how Midton Acrylics has switched from making RTS awards to protective visors for health workers
Anyone who’s been to an RTS awards ceremony will be familiar with the work of Scottish firm Midton Acrylics, maker for these past 30 years of the Society’s much-coveted and distinctive trophies.
As the coronavirus crisis deepened, Midton swapped making awards to manufacturing plastic visors to help protect health workers treating local Covid-19 patients.
The company has produced up to 600 visors a day from its factory in Lochgilphead, Argyll.
The visors have been sent to Oban’s Lorn & Islands Hospital and Mid Argyll Community Hospital in Lochgilphead.
“We wanted to do something to help the local community,” explained Midton director Graham Ramsay. “There’s a massive shortage of personal protective equipment [PPE]. We’d seen the plastic shields that provide complete coverage of the face on the news and thought we could make them quite easily from the stock we had in the factory.”
A volunteer team of eight have laboured for free on the visors at the factory, which reopened on 1 April following the national lockdown and staff being furloughed. Three prototypes were created within 24 hours, with the assistance of the hospitals and 4c Engineering in Inverness, before a final version was chosen.
The shields are free to the NHS because they have been financed by a crowdfunding campaign that saw local businesses and individuals raise £5,500 in a fortnight.
“We reached our original target in hours,” said Ramsay. “The local community has been amazing.”
An appeal helped source more of the plastic and elastic required to produce the visors – “People have been dropping [material] in at the factory gate.”
The aim is to make around 20,000 visors a month – possibly rising to 30,000 if funds can be raised.
Midton plans to start manufacturing face masks and has also offered to make parts for ventilators.
“We’re looking at going into production on 3D-printed face masks,” said Ramsay. “Care homes are desperate for PPE. Ambulance crews and pharmacies need protecting as well. We need to get back to making awards, but we’re looking at how we can continue making PPE alongside our other activities.
“No one knows how long this is going to go on for, but I would say several months. We couldn’t just sit and watch this crisis unfold on the news. We had to do something to help people, especially when we saw local hospitals struggle with the lack of PPE.”
RTS CEO Theresa Wise said: “I am impressed and proud that Midton has pivoted its business to the manufacture of vital PPE. It is a wonderful example of British agility.”
Midton is a global manufacturer of cast acrylics, and produces deal toys, acrylic embedments and memorabilia for specialist events.
Ant and Dec are just two of the celebrities who have received awards produced by the Lochgilphead firm over the years. Ramsay added: “Ant and Dec love their RTS awards and they had them in the background on Saturday Night Takeaway.”