By Damian Dolan
A Gaelic footballer in London is putting his skills as a design and technology teacher to good use, by making urgently needed face shields for frontline NHS workers.
Kevin Delahunty, originally from Co Waterford, plays for east London GAA club Thomas McCurtains.
He was inspired to help after seeing other teachers on social media producing face shields.
With the co-operation of his head teacher, Mr Keith Williams, at The Campion School in Hornchurch, Essex, he’s so far produced 200 face shields.
These have been distributed to three local hospitals; Queen’s Hospital in Romford, Basildon University Hospital and Brentwood Community Hospital.
He hopes to produce 600 in total, “if not more” and says the need for them is “massive” amongst NHS staff.
Big shout out to club member Kevin Dolchaointe who is busy during the crisis making PPE facemasks in Campion School for the brave frontline staff. #inthistogether #notallheroswearcapes 🇶🇦🇶🇦@theirishworld @irishinbritain @IrishPostSport @LondainGAA @ogradysirishbar pic.twitter.com/DcKCY2ii2W
— Thomas McCurtains (@ThomasMcCurtain) April 8, 2020
“They’re just crying out for anything they can get,” Kevin told the Irish World.
“A teacher in the school has a cousin who is a consultant at Basildon, and she was just over the moon.
“I hope my face shields are thrown in the bin and they get the proper equipment, but whatever can help for the time being.”
Kevin says another school in Hornchurch – Sacred Heart of Mary Girls’ School – has an order in for 600 shields, while ten other schools are now producing face shields using Kevin’s design, which he has shared with them.
“I’m only doing something very, very small compared to what a lot of other people are doing,” said Kevin, a member of the McCurtains team which won an intermediate championship last year.
“We’ve members of the club who are putting themselves at risk – the NHS workers are the heroes – they’re the ones on the frontline.
“This is something small we can do to help – and it is nice to be able to help.”
As well as receiving the full backing of the school’s head teacher, Kevin has been ably assisted throughout by his fiancé Paula O’Dwyer, as well as the school’s technician Danny Pitkin and one of the students.
Using the school’s workshop, Kevin spent a week drawing up his design in line with health and safety guidelines, and setting up for production.
While other face shield designs he saw seen used a 3D printer, Kevin’s school only has one printer, so he had to come up an alternative way of mass production.
He decided on using a laser cutter and can produce 100 shields every two days. Day one is spent prepping and getting all the materials ready – the second day is spent on assembly.
While Kevin has been taking care of the production side of things, Mr Williams has been getting orders and delivering the shields to the hospitals.
“He’s on board and has been really, really good,” said Kevin.
The local rugby team, which is associated with the school, has also got involved and donated £600 towards materials.
Thomas McCurtains, who celebrate their 100th Anniversary this year, have also set up a community support initiative, aimed at connecting club volunteers with people who may be in need of help at this time.
The club has 20 of its members signed up to offer support in a variety of different ways – helping with shopping, collecting prescriptions or just being there for a chat – based in east London and the surrounding areas.
Having launched the initiative online the club now intend to spread the word by linking up with local churches and other groups, to try and ensure elderly or vulnerable people, who are perhaps not online, are not being missed.
If you, or someone you know, is struggling, afraid or in need of support through the Covid-19 pandemic please get in touch with Rob Reid via the following:
– Phone call or text: 073 8702 4860
– WhatsApp: 075 54208226 between 9.00am and 5.00pm.https://t.co/ahcWa8sGVZ pic.twitter.com/8mvD6OV1GT
— Thomas McCurtains (@ThomasMcCurtain) March 25, 2020
Robert Reid, who is it spearheading the initiative, says it’s something the club is committed to doing for the “long haul”.
“A lot of churches are probably already offering similar assistance, but if we can tie in with them and bolster their network of volunteers,” he said.
“Even if we only manage to help one person – whether that’s a phone call or picking something up for them – it will be worth it.
“And even if no one ends up using it, it’s always worth having that option there.”
Thomas McCurtains has 24 members currently working in the NHS:
Abbey O’Sullivan – Cork, Occupational Therapist at Queens Hospital, Romford;
Áine Crowe – Tipperary, Senior Sister at King George Hospital, Goodmayes;
Aine Keeshan – Sligo, Physiotherapist at King George Hospital, Goodmayes;
Allie Burke – Galway, ICU Nurse at Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel;
Amy Cullinane – Cork, Physiotherapist at University College London Hospital;
Aoife Leahy – Tipperary, Physiotherapist at Queens Hospital, Romford;
Aoife Neary – Kilkenny, Chief Cardio Physiologist at St Barts Hospital, Smithfield;
April Fagan – Dublin, Respiratory Ward Manager at Royal Free Hospital;
Not all heroes wear capes, some some of them wear Maroon & White
TMC would like to extend its gratitude to all NHS and other healthcare workers.
Proud is an understatement. Please help them in their efforts saving lives and STAY AT HOME.#NotAllHeroesWearCapes pic.twitter.com/pvWgLYjMli
— Thomas McCurtains (@ThomasMcCurtain) March 28, 2020
Avril Kilkelly – Mayo, Respiratory Physiotherapist at Guys & St. Thomas Hospital;
Caitriona Skehan – Tipperary, Respiratory Physiotherapist at North Middlesex Community Hospital;
Ciarán McAuley – Tipperary, London Ambulance Service, West Ham;
Claire Bailey – Galway, Physiotherapist at Barnet Hospital;
Claire O’Sullivan – Kerry, Physiotherapist at Queens Hospital, Romford;
Emily Gallagher – Galway, Occupational Therapist at Queens Hospital, Romford.
Jeff Harte – Dublin, ITU Senior House Officer at St Barts Hospital, Smithfield;
Jenny Murphy – Waterford, ICU / Dietitian at Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel;
John Winters – Cork, Physiotherapist at St. Margaret’s Hospital, Essex & Saffron Walden;
Katie Hayes – Cavan, Respiratory Nurse at Queens Hospital, Romford;
Martin Keyes – Dublin, Psychiatric Nurse at Goodmayes Hospital;
Mary Jean Hickey – Limerick, Community Nurse at Havering;
Michelle Cartin – Derry, Radiographer / Sonagrapher at Royal Free Hospital;
Niamh Harney – Cork, Radiographer at The Whittington Hospital, Archway;
Roseann Barker – Kilkenny, Nurse at Spire London East, Redbridge;
Tara O’Leary – Cork, Radiographer at St George’s Hospital, Tooting.