Tonbridge supplying protective face masks for NHS staff

Tonbridge School staff, parents and boys are working with local businesses to supply protective masks to key workers in the NHS.

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2nd April 2020 — A working party was set up to investigate whether these essential items could be produced urgently and efficiently at the school.

The masks will be used by ‘frontline’ NHS staff, including those who will be manning the NHS Assessment Centre which has been set up at the Tonbridge School Centre.

The school’s Design Technology Department has led on developing and manufacturing the masks, which are also being supplied to local GP surgeries and will be used in addition to existing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) provided by the NHS.

The production team has been following the Government’s social distancing guidelines during the laser-cutting production process.

Will Biddle, Design Technology Teacher and Tonbridge Housemaster, said: “We came up with a really simple design and we can quite easily and quickly manufacture these masks in the school workshop in a cost-efficient manner, with a few helping hands.”

He added: “We hope that the design can be rolled out to other UK schools through a website our team has set up,, which has step-by-step manufacturing information, CAD files and usage guidance, so that each school can support its local NHS Trust as much as possible.

“The masks make use of materials and equipment that DT departments in schools probably already have. We also recommend that, as and when schools do get production under way, they contact their NHS Trust so that both parties are in touch and up to date.”

The website has full instructions on how to how to make protective masks cheaply and easily in a school workshop equipped with a laser cutter, and Tonbridge is sharing the details of the site with other schools and Design Technology departments. “The key thing is that schools take up the baton and start to make these masks for their local communities,” Will Biddle added.

Meanwhile, Tonbridge Sixth Former Jack Raynor is one of the founding members of ‘3D Crowd’ – a group of volunteers who are getting together across the country to help produce 3D printed face shields in large volumes for the NHS.

Jack has also set up a GoFundMe page which raised £4,000 in its first 24 hours, allowing the team to buy more plastic print consumables for making the frames, and to purchase 80,000 transparent visors.

The school’s working party included Deputy Head Co-Curricular James Fisher; Dr Nicola Perry, NHS West Kent; Mike and Lucy Piercy from The New Beacon School; and Rob Llewellyn of Digital Spring.

Pictured: Tonbridge teacher Will Biddle, above, wears one of the newly produced protective masks in the school's DT lab.

About Tonbridge School

Tonbridge School is one of the leading boys' boarding schools in the country and highly respected internationally. The school provides a caring and enlightened environment in which the talents of each individual flourish. We encourage boys to be creative, tolerant and to strive for academic, sporting and cultural excellence. Respect for tradition and an openness to innovation are equally valued.

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