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Stephen Walters in Sudbury pledges support to help ease shortage of PPE during coronavirus outbreak

A business in Sudbury is hoping to provide key support for front-line medical workers tackling the coronavirus outbreak by helping to ease the nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Stephen Walters and Sons, which produces high-end fabrics at Sudbury silk mills in Cornard Road, has offered to adapt its manufacturing site to create PPE for NHS staff.

A lack of protective clothing and equipment has prompted an outcry from workers across medical and care sectors, who have been treating patients diagnosed with Covid-19.

The Team at Stepheh Walters and Sons in Sudbury (33365461)
The Team at Stepheh Walters and Sons in Sudbury (33365461)

“Most of the fabrics we manufacture at the mill are for the luxury fashion market, but we also supply technical, high-performance fabrics for other industries, so we are hoping that some of that capability can be used to manufacture much-needed materials,” said managing director Julius Walters.

Keen to play an active role in the crisis, Mr Walters said the company had already explored what it could offer.

“We have made an application to the Government outlining the fabrics that we have immediately available in stock, along with the other sorts of fabrics that we could quickly develop and weave if required,” said Mr Walters.

Julius Walters, director at Stephen Walters and Sons in Sudbury. (33365470)
Julius Walters, director at Stephen Walters and Sons in Sudbury. (33365470)

To coincide with the Government’s guidance during the outbreak, the company has suspended its weaving production, while employees work from home.

The firm has pledged its support to other organisations helping to tackle the crisis, including the British Fashion Council, which is working alongside the Department of Health and Social Care, as well as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Mr Walters said its customers from international firms were producing surgical masks.

He added: “As all of these talks develop, we will be looking to see if we can keep some core processes at the mill operating. We have the technological capability and the production capacity, and we are ready to help in any way possible.”

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