The national demand for hand sanitiser has gone through the roof during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, with supplies struggling to catch up.
In Wales, a partnership between a budding local distillery and international transport operator Keolis has seen thousands of litres of hand sanitiser made available to front line rail staff.
Until late February, Hensol Castle, in the Vale of Glamorgan, was making plans for the opening of a visitors’ centre and gin school in the cellars of its 17th century castle. However, when Welsh-based public transport operator Keolis UK got in touch to see if Hensol Castle could help meet the needs of its Transport for Wales Rail Services operation, which had been looking at ways of boosting its supply of alcohol-gel sanitiser, it soon became clear that it was a partnership which could make a real difference.
As a result, Hensol Castle re-purposed its distillery to produce highly effective hand sanitiser for industrial use – focusing on meeting the demands of key workers.
Keolis UK chief operating officer Nigel Stevens said: “When we made the decision to move our national HQ to Wales, we did so with the very clear commitment to support the local economy here wherever possible.
“We’ve made good on this commitment, ensuring every facet of our office move was delivered locally and, through KeolisAmey Wales, marrying our international expertise with the very best products and services Welsh companies have to offer.
“I’ve a real sense of personal pride that we have been able to strike a partnership with this fantastic Welsh company in their efforts to support the country during a time of national crisis – providing an excellent product and service to both staff and passengers in the process.
“Our commitment to Wales is a long term one, and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with Welsh companies of this nature as business transitions to some sense of ‘normal’.”
Simon Davies from Hensol Castle Distillery added: “Once we saw the critical need in the NHS and elsewhere, we repurposed our distillery to produce hand sanitiser and set about establishing a supply chain that could meet the urgent demand.
“Whilst the transition was a swift one, it wasn’t always easy to overcome many obstacles, particularly with the supply chain, with some suppliers looking to profiteer from an in-demand product. With the help of KeolisAmey Wales’ industry contacts and the support of the Welsh Government, however we have now established a robust supply chain and are delighted to help meet demand for key services at such a difficult time.
“Supply will continue for as long as we are needed to help support our frontline services.”
Hensol Castle isn’t the only distillery producing alcohol-based sanitiser during the epidemic. Single-malt producer Penderyn is manufacturing 10,000 litres a week, much of it for NHS hospitals and care centres, while Piston Gin of Worcester is supplying Network Rail’s signallers with its ‘Distinguished’ hand sanitiser, which contains Aloe Vera.