A team of fashion and design experts from the University of Central Lancashire has swapped producing catwalk creations for isolation gowns during the coronavirus pandemic.Advertisement
The team, led by UCLan Alumnus and part-time lecturer Femida Adam, produced an initial batch of 150 gowns for Blackpool Victoria Hospital, having received the specialist fabric from Adlington-based suppliers Carrington Textiles.
Working to an NHS pattern and specification, the UCLan team produced a prototype gown, known as a ‘toile’, in one day. This was endorsed by staff at the hospital, who gave the green light to produce the full order for 150 gowns.
Femida, who graduated from UCLan in 2014 with a first-class degree in eastern fashion design, runs a successful fashion business, Al-Aura, producing occasion wear for celebrations and weddings. Since the lockdown, demand for her work has reduced so she was keen to put her design skills to an unfamiliar use.
She said: “It’s been really satisfying to work on such a worthwhile project. There are only six of us and we’re all complying with social distancing requirements. Even so, we’ve managed to organise one of our sewing studios into a pretty slick operation. It’s now taking us about 20 minutes to cut out and then sew each gown.”
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Kevin McGee, Chief Executive of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Hospital Cell Lead for the Lancashire and South Cumbria ICS Covid-19 NHS Co-ordination Structure, said: “It is extremely valuable to have additional sources of protective equipment during this challenging period for all health and care staff.
“We are very grateful to UCLan and to Carrington Textiles for their support and sterling efforts in turning this around so quickly. This adds further meaning to protecting our NHS and saving lives.”
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Maria Murray, who heads UCLan’s School of Art, Design and Fashion said: “It was great to receive such positive feedback from BVH. We plan to have delivered all of the gowns to the hospital by early this week, with a further 200 being constructed and dispatched the following week.
“In many ways this crisis has shown that in our country the skills, creativity and enthusiasm to ‘make’ are still there, and the team working on this project has set a great example of what can be achieved when we all pull together.”
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What do you think of Femida and the team’s efforts? Let us know in the comments.