On Easter Sunday, the 12th of April 2020, WBro Bob Smith PAGDC (one of Wellingborough & Rushden's group officers) received a WhatsApp message from a family member in Scotland.
The message alerted WBro Bob to a Corby company that had joined the fight against COVID-19 by diverting resources to the manufacture of PPE (personal protective equipment) face-visors.
The company in question was Pronto Images, a family-run business set-up Lee Traynor, an-ex soldier, during his last 6-years of military service.
Lee left the British Army in October 2019 after serving over 23-years in the Corps of Royal Engineers. Throughout his career, Lee served all over the world, including several tours of Iraq and Afghanistan, primarily in the role of improvised-explosive-device (IED) location and clearance.
Lee's company usually supplies a wide range of bespoke/personalised items including custom-designed mess-kit clutter-boxes and medal boxes.
Unfortunately, Pronto Images, like many other businesses, has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, so Lee decided to turn this negative into a positive by putting his machines to good use by manufacturing PPE face-visors using a free design created by a Nottingham-based company, Kitronik.
Within a day of collecting their first batch of materials, Pronto Images was able to deliver over 400-visors to hospitals, care homes and doctors' surgeries. They shipped a further 700-visors the day after that.
Notwithstanding that the company met all of the costs of producing the first 1,000-visors, and that it continues to manufacture them for free, donations are still needed to fund the cost of materials.
Accordingly, having viewed the product on Easter Monday, the day after receiving the WhatsApp message, WBro Bob approached the Provincial Grand Master, RWBro Max Bayes, and asked if the Province would be able to make a much-needed donation to this end.
By Wednesday the 15th of April, the Provincial Grand Master had confirmed that an initial donation of £2,000 had been secured from the £1m fund set-aside by the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic with respect to Freemasons and the wider community.
Even before he had received the funds, Lee got to work producing an extra 2,000-visors, which were boxed with a "Materials kindly funded by your local Freemasons" label and delivered to Northamptonshire hospitals and care-homes before the week was out.
As of Wednesday the 22nd of April, thanks to this and other donations, Pronto Images has been able to make and distribute over 5,000-visors.
Production has continued with local volunteers cleaning the final product prior to shipment. In addition, the Northants & Hunts New and Young Masons Club (NHNYMC) have offered their assistance with packaging and delivery.
We congratulate Lee, his staff, and all those who have supported their magnificent efforts to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the NHS and other frontline workers, paid or otherwise, who are fighting so hard to help those in need.