A MONTGOMERY family has turned their sculpture workshop into a PPE production line to support the NHS.

The Cole family runs Articole Studios in Mellington, and would normally be making props for theme parks, but have turned their hand to supporting the national effort in protecting against coronavirus.

And it is just less than three months since the family saw the benefits of the NHS first hand, when Alex, 29, received a kidney donated by his father Steve, in a transplant operation.

Steve said: “The three of us as a family – myself, my wife Barbara and my son Alex, we’ve been through quite a big year because we’ve had a kidney transplant this year. I was the donor and Alex was the recipient, who’s had kidney disease for a number of years.

“We’ve been relying heavily on the NHS to solve our problems with our lifestyle and Alex’s health. The first thing we did when we started to get better so we could actually do something was to make face shields. It started off with 3D printing them because we’ve got printing equipment but evolved the technology that we use for everyday work which resin castings so we’re using the skills and materials that we’ve got available, so we can keep the costings down to zero so our view was to supply them for free to whoever needs them.

“It’s not just the NHS, they’re going to care homes and people from all walks of life who have approached us. So far we’ve had people from petrol stations who are fronting members of the public.”

Barbara said: “My husband is still recovering from this operation so some days he spends the day in bed and Alex, who’s the recipient, is still very ill with it. We just do what we can when we can, and because we can’t work, we’ve furloughed ourselves, this is something we can do when we’re feeling OK and fit it in.”

Steve added: “We’re making good recovery. Alex went from a 13 per cent kidney function the day before his operation, up to 80 per cent when my kidney was put in after a couple of days. Now he’s hovering between 60 and 80 per cent, it goes up and down but I’m making good progress. I get weeks where I’m tired and I can’t do anything and there are weeks when I’ve got more energy so an ebb and flow really.

“We’re going to do it for as long as we need to. Because the country was so unprepared for this, there are injection moulding companies that are now set up that can knock out a thousand of these things a day, but it’s taken several weeks for them to get up to strength.”

Barbara added: “We’re happy to do it, and we don’t want to charge for it. People have given contributions for them, which has been lovely, and we’ve had a bottle of wine from somebody.”