ENTERPRISING schools have joined forces to support the NHS in its fight against coronavirus by donating hundreds of items of equipment from their science departments.

Under-pressure medical staff at Darlington Memorial Hospital are today receiving minibus deliveries of protective glasses, goggles, face visors and gloves from a network of local schools.

The “Darlington schools to the rescue” operation is being co-ordinated by Hurworth School and involves Longfield Academy, Hummersknott Academy, Carmel College, Polam Hall School, St Aidan’s Academy, Wyvern Academy, Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College, West Park Academy and Reid Street Primary.

It follows this week’s admission by Health Secretary Matt Hancock that there have been “challenges” over the supply of personal protective equipment to NHS staff who have complained that the issue is putting them in danger.

Hurworth head teacher Nichola Peaker said: “It has all happened very quickly but the response from the schools in the area has been fantastic and, hopefully, it will make a real difference.”

The idea was initiated by Hurworth’s laboratory technician Sue Dell, who contacted Miss Peaker to ask whether the school could donate its equipment. Neighbouring headteachers were contacted and immediately pledged their support.

Mrs Dell rang Noel Scanlon, executive director of nursing at the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, who confirmed that the donations would be welcome.

Mrs Dell said: “The disease is droplet-borne so it can get into the system through the mouth, nose and eyes, and these staff didn’t have any goggles to wear.

“I was feeling helpless, stuck at home, and I just thought that this was something I could do. It may only be addressing a small part of the problem, but I hope it helps fill the gap until the government gets the supplies we need.”

Hurworth staff came in early this morning to start packing up the equipment and Mrs Dell collected the donations from other schools before delivering it the hospital by minibus.

Miss Peaker added: “The staff have been brilliant – going through drawers and cupboards to dig out whatever might be useful. It’s a practical example of what we can do to help the NHS at this unprecedented time – we can all play our part in some way.”

Carmel College principal Mike Shorten added: “We are so pleased to be able to help the NHS with a donation of 165 pairs of goggles and more than 2,500 disposable gloves from our science and technology department and I would like to thank Hurworth Academy for having the idea and bringing all the schools together in this fabulous initiative.”