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Leeds teenager uses scholarship fund to help NHS workers

A Leeds teenager has spent an engineering scholarship fund on a 3D printer to enable him to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline NHS workers.

Seventeen-year-old Jake Howarth, a sixth form student at The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL), was already producing visors on a 3D printer at home when he bought a newer, faster model with money awarded to him by the prestigious Arkwright Trust.

Jake, a budding engineer, received a £600 financial award from the Trust after a highly competitive selection process. The funds are intended to support students of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to help with their A-level studies and fund activities to promote their understanding and experience of engineering.

In light of the coronavirus crisis, Jake couldn’t think of a better way to spend his award than investing in another 3D printer so he could double his efforts to help combat the PPE shortage in the NHS and care homes.

Jake teamed up with 3D Crowd UK, a group of more than 8,000 volunteers around the country who are using their manufacturing expertise and equipment to produce PPE. In just 12 weeks the group has produced 185,000 visors and raised £144,000 to pay for materials.

For his part, Jake is producing the headband and bottom reinforcements for the face shields before the transparent sheet is affixed to the frame. He said: “We don’t just need makers though. We also need drivers to collect and deliver PPE, people willing to act as hubs and donations via the 3Dcrowd website.”

While Jake was busy at home, the design technology workshop at GSAL has been in service as a PPE production centre too. The school’s head of design technology John Bagshaw coordinated the project, which has manufactured and despatched 4,000 visors since school closed at the end of March.

John said: “In partnership with six other schools, we’ve provided PPE to 150 recipients including NHS services, GP surgeries, pharmacies, police, shops, care homes and dentists, even posting items to London, Wales and Scotland. It’s been a magnificent effort by colleagues and students still attending school, who helped on the production line whenever they had time.”