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Diss teachers do their homework to create prototype shield

A pair of teachers have pooled their combined knowledge to design and build a series of face shields for front-line NHS staff.

The idea first came to Duncan Somers, head of science at Diss High School, after he donated materials, including goggles and gloves, to The Lawns Medical Centre in Mount Street.

He said: “There had been a lot in the news about the need for more personal protective equipment, so I went online to find a model of a face shield I could use on a 3-D printer.

Diss High School teachers Duncan Somers and Greg Vail are hand making face shields for front line and NHS staff.Picture: Mecha Morton.
Diss High School teachers Duncan Somers and Greg Vail are hand making face shields for front line and NHS staff.Picture: Mecha Morton.

“It had the basics on how to do it, so I got in touch with Greg Vail, who is the design and technology teacher, to help me.

“The problem was that our 3-D printer was so slow, it would only produce one or two a day.”

So the pair came up with a prototype of their own and started to build the components from materials in the school, before putting the shields together by hand.

After making their first batch and donating them to The Lawns Medical Centre, the pair made further batches for Parish Fields Practice, Botesdale Health Centre and St John’s House in Palgrave.

Using the design and technology workshop at the Walcot Road school as their base, the pair are looking to increase production after a slower start than they would have hoped for.

Mr Somers, who is also assistant headteacher, said: “At first, it took us a lot of time to make the pieces and a bit of trial and error in putting them together, but now we have got it down to a fine art.

“Obviously, with the school only partially open to children of key workers, we felt this was the perfect time to do this.

“We had the resources and the opportunity to do something to help the people that are helping others right now.”

The teachers have had requests for their shields from practices as far away as Wymondham and Mr Somers hopes they can help more people that need them.

The 48-year-old said: “That is one of the most positive things at the minute – community spirit is really alive and kicking.

“Everybody is realising they can contribute in small ways. Even if it is just staying indoors, they are all helping the bigger picture.”

The pair have set up a JustGiving page to buy more materials and are looking for medium density upholstery foam and clear sheet PVC.

Anyone who may be able to help should email office@disshigh.norfolk.sch.uk.

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