Punchline Business and Community Champion: Family firm delivers vital face masks to NHS front line
By Andrew Merrell | 9th April 2020
With many of his own staff furloughed and a business to keep running you might have thought Lee Derbidge had enough on his mind.
While his own company, Redbridge and Sons Property Services, continues to operate - allbeit with a skeleton staff - Mr Derbidge's aim was to help what have become known as front line staff if he could.
Determined to get hundreds of vital FFP3 face masks to the NHS he set up a drop off with a member of staff from the Gloucestershire NHS Foundations Trust.
The 225 he was able to obtain and off-load was on top of 100 he had already managed to get to the pharmacy at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.
"I had ordered plenty for my wife's care company and thought I would round up to 1,000 and donate a third of them, kind of guessed there would be shortages," said Mr Derbidge, whose Gloucester firm's team of carpenters, heating engineers, plumbers and other tradesmen are usually carrying out property maintenance county wide and beyond.
Nearly all of his own staff have been furloughed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
"We have two staff left working, me to cover domestic gas and heating issues and our M&E manager is working from home, but available for any of our commercial clients for breakdowns and emergencies," said Mr Derbridge, who is in awe of those in the NHS.
"These guys are doing an heroic job, working so close to such an indiscriminate virus that could affect them or their loved ones is very brave and shows massive care and dedication," he said.
"I have always believed that everyone has a role from the PM of the country to the guys at the lower end of the chain, all of us are links, take away the links and the chain is useless, but these guys should receive more recognition for what they do."
While Mr Derbridge continues to keep his own business afloat his wife is managing a business specialising in assisted living, isteld and its residents facing its own challenges.
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