Ensuring essential supplies get where they’re needed

During the crisis, alumnus Ian Clough (Accountancy, 1988), Managing Director Network Logistics and Transport at DHL Supply Chain, has been in charge of distribution for many supermarkets, running patient transport for the NHS in North London, and moving ventilators (and their component parts) for Formula One teams amongst others.

In addition he led transportation of 100,000 face masks into the UK as part of the 'Masks for NHS Heroes' campaign.

Ian said: “The team approached us about helping to distribute the supplies around the UK, and also the international Express team about transporting goods into the UK. The doctors were very knowledgeable and passionate about what they were doing and we had the logistics expertise and were in a position to help, so we got involved.”

Ian and DHL supported the NHS in other ways too. For example through providing logistical support for the Nightingale Hospitals and converting warehouse space into specific storage facilities, plus adapting some existing patient transport vehicles so that they caould move COVID patients in the capital. His division also produced COVID-19 testing kits going from 1,000 per day to 16,000 per day in a few weeks.

Ian said: “I love this role because it is so varied. I started work at DHL around 30 years ago in a finance job following my Accounting degree, but since then I’ve moved between six different countries and multiple divisions. In my current role no day is the same, and that’s particularly true now. It’s very busy but knowing I am doing positive work makes it more rewarding.”

Alumni father and son help get masks to the NHS

Also supporting the Masks for NHS Heroes fundraising campaign were alumni father and son David and Cameron Wilkinson.

Initially David (Law, 1989), who is the Senior Partner at Fieldfisher LLP, was approached by a client who is also behind the campaign. With the fundraising going even better than all expectations, they needed legal expertise to help with purchasing from China and transportation to the UK.

David said: “The plan was to buy from a factory in China and then transport the masks to the UK before distributing directly to hospitals in need. Fortunately we have three offices in China and I was able to contact my Managing Partner in China who immediately jumped at the opportunity to help. We then started working on the contractual negotiations with the factory and have now helped on all of their subsequent purchases and also internal governance issues for the fund raising.”

At the same time David was discussing the difficulties of getting the goods through Chinese customs and into the UK. They needed help with both road and air transport to get the masks from the factory to their final destination.

David said: “I spoke to my son Cameron (Psychology and International Relations, 2017) as he works for Zencargo, a freight forwarding company. They also jumped at the opportunity to help and arranged all of the logistics to get the masks from the factory gate to the UK where they were then handed over to DHL for delivery to hospitals. They even sorted out a special authorisation from HM Revenue & Customs to ensure that the masks could come into the UK duty free.

“It was great to work with my son. His company has been great and put a huge amount of effort into piecing things together.”

Father and son doctor duo work at the same hospital in fight against COVID-19

In another story of keeping it in the family, alumnus and junior doctor Tayyib Mubashar (BBMS, 2019) has been working alongside his consultant paediatrician father, Yahya Mubashar on the front line at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust during the Coronavirus crisis.

Tayyib told local news programme, BBC Spotlight: “I’m seeing people come together in ways we previously haven’t. The current situation is not only a baptism by fire for junior doctors, it’s the same for everyone and that’s exactly what pulls everyone closer together”.

Yahya said: “I’ve always taught him that being a doctor is not a job actually, it is a duty, and we have to fulfil our duty that we have been privileged to serve. So I am really pleased to see him doing that and I feel really proud for him to be working in the same hospital as me.”

Tayyib said: “From a very young age, seeing my father come home from work, he would always regale me with the tales of what had been happening on the wards and I would always have a lot of questions. He has always been a role model for me to look up to.”

An example of the NHS COVID-19 vaccination booking website that Laurence and AFC Technologies have worked on.

Alumnus helps provide IT solutions for COVID-19 testing and booking websites

Alumnus Laurence Leach (Engineering, 2003) has been working as the lead architect on the new NHS COVID-19 national testing and booking websites with the company ACF Technologies where he is Technical Director.

Laurence says: “In my professional role I’ve always strived to adopt more standardised technology, adhere to best practises, deliver better training for team-members, and learn as much as possible about technology, projects, business, markets etc. When we were approached by the NHS as potential suppliers, we were asked if we could react in a very short time period. Previous years of enabling the business with technologies and standards allowed us to react very quickly to a pretty much unprecedented situation!

“The solution developed is a platform that allows users to find local centres, find timeslots, enter their details and get a booking. We also enable the NHS teams to easily set the availability and capacity of the centres nationwide. We have to manage many hidden complexities around multiple test types, vaccination types, dose spacing, eligibility, accessibility needs, reporting and large capacity (the entire UK, hundreds of millions of requests), and it has to load very fast.

“Working on a project that improves the experience customers and users is very rewarding – but to know that the work you are delivering is a key piece of the fight against COVID-19, and is helping people across the country makes me extremely proud!”

And that’s not all…

Georgina Tabor (MSc Urban Water Systems, 2008) was an original member of Bristol Scrub Hub, a voluntary group making scrubs for NHS workers in Bristol currently struggling to source their own.

Alumni business ChargedUp transformed its phone charging stations to hand sanitiser dispensers.

Musician James Dixon (Biological Chemistry, 2010), cut off his trademark locks to raise £4000 for his local foodbank.

Katie O'Connor (Business Economics, 2017) helped set-up an online venture that supports independent businesses.