UCLAN fashion experts support NHS staff

A small team of fashion and design experts from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have swapped catwalk creations for more practical apparel by producing sought-after isolation gowns for Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

The small production team, led by UCLan Alumnus and part-time lecturer Femida Adam, has worked around the clock to produce an initial batch of 150 gowns 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 enthusiastically endorsed by staff at BVH who gave the green light to produce the full order for 150 gowns.

Femida, who graduated from the University in 2014 with a first-class degree in eastern fashion design, 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 15-20 minutes to cut out and then sew each gown.”

The team, which also includes David Knight, Course Leader for UCLan’s Art and Design Foundation Programme, is juggling work on the gowns project with teaching and tutorial commitments.

He added: “The design of the gowns isn’t too complicated and it’s fantastic that we’re able to come together and contribute in this way. I think my wife is also quite glad of the peace!”

Kevin McGee, Chief Executive of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:  “It is extremely valuable to have additional sources of protective equipment during this challenging period for all health and care staff and 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.”

Work on the gowns couldn’t have stared without the help of Adlington-based Carrington Textiles

In the last two weeks the company has been working around the clock to manufacture over 3.5 million metres of their specialist material for the healthcare industry.

Paul Farrell, Sales and Marketing Director for Carrington Textiles, explained: “We’ve been supplying organisations from across the UK with our fabric to help protect a wide range of key workers.

“So, when the University contacted us with a brief to produce isolation gowns for Blackpool Victoria Hospital we were delighted to help.’’

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