Harborough man named on New Year Honours list after working flat out to make PPE equipment during pandemic

The former Robert Smyth Academy pupil created thousands of face shields for workers on the frontline

By Sam Wildman
Monday, 3rd January 2022, 9:49 am
Updated Monday, 3rd January 2022, 9:52 am
Aaron Shrive worked night and day for the last six weeks to knock out a thousands of vital personal protective equipment (PPE) for key health service workers.
Aaron Shrive worked night and day for the last six weeks to knock out a thousands of vital personal protective equipment (PPE) for key health service workers.

When Aaron Shrive started making pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) for NHS staff last year, he didn't do it for any awards.

So you can imagine his surprise after he received one of the biggest possible - being named on the New Year Honours list for services to the Covid-19 response.

The former Robert Smyth Academy pupil has been awarded a British Empire Medal after working flat out at the start of the pandemic, creating thousands of face shields for workers on the frontline.

And it was an unexpected early Christmas and birthday present when he opened a letter from the Cabinet Office earlier this month.

The 33-year-old, who moved to Desborough from Market Harborough in February, said: "I knew nothing about it until an envelope dropped through my door.

"I was shocked - it hadn't even crossed my mind.

"I definitely had to sit down for a while after opening it!"

Aaron utilised his skills as a 3D printer design engineer to supply PPE to NHS hospitals and local firms who were under extreme pressure.

When the national lockdown was announced in March 2020 he was unable to continue his work as usual and instead harnessed his skills, and adapted his business, to help those in the community.

He repurposed his bank of 3D printers to design and print face shields and donated them, free of charge, to anyone in need.

Aaron said: "I got hold of a design, did a few test shields and then Harborough Medical Centre asked for some.

"It just grew from there - it was incredible really."

There was such a high demand for the face shields that he worked day and night, and at times only slept for one hour a night in order to provide vital PPE for all in the community.

He donated the PPE to NHS hospitals in the local area, including Leicester General, Leicester Royal Infirmary, and Kettering General, as well as care homes and local businesses.

Aaron had such a demand that he also sent PPE to other areas of the country, including as far away as Cornwall.

Over a six-week period, Aaron used more than 20 miles of plastic to produce more than 6,400 face shields.

And when he had to stop after volunteers were warned they had to meet British and EU standards, he adapted his skills to design and print more than 9,000 ear protectors to be used alongside face masks.

He invested more than £2,000 of his own money into providing the PPE - all while not being able to generate any income for himself due to the national restrictions.

Aaron said he was grateful to the community for their support and that he had kept a box full of thank you letters he received.

And he added: "People that work in the NHS are the real heroes of the pandemic."