Hand sanitiser hunt ends at gin distillery for Brighton & Hove

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Brighton & Hove Buses recently found an unlikely source of hand sanitiser for its drivers and other frontline colleagues: a local gin distillery.

The bus company’s Stores Manager Steve Trewin has had to get creative sourcing PPE, with hand sanitiser being particularly difficult to track down since the worldwide shortage brought on by the coronavirus.

After exhausting his usual suppliers, Steve discovered that Seaford gin distillery Murray & Yeatman was supplying medical grade hand sanitiser to vital local service providers and businesses.

Rob Murray with Murray & Yeatman’s hand sanitiser

Brighton & Hove Buses bought 150 litres of it, which must be at least 80% alcohol to be classed as medical grade by the World Health Organisation.

As well as finding novel sources of hand sanitiser, Steve has scoured the internet to find hundreds of smaller, empty bottles so drivers can decant their own supplies from the 10 litre tubs of sanitiser in each depot.

Steve said: “It is worth hunting high and low to make sure our drivers and our other colleagues feel safe. Everyone is in the same boat so you have got to use your imagination and think outside the box a bit. We have a good supply of hand sanitiser from a number of different sources but this is certainly one of the more unusual.”

Murray & Yeatman’s Managing Director and distiller Rob Murray had the idea to make hand sanitiser after a friend who worked in a Seaford care home told him he could not buy it anywhere.

The closure of the pubs, bars and restaurants in March was an additional catalyst to begin production.

Rob said: “We decided we would do it for care homes and nursing homes throughout Sussex. I expected there to be a couple of hundred. There are thousands! I couldn’t believe it. We started ringing round and everyone we rang said ‘look, we’re desperate’.”

He added that it was high quality alcohol that had been distilled several times, so it left skin feeling soft.

Brighton & Hove Buses’ Head of Engineering Neil Miles said: “We got on the case early on and started tracking down hand sanitiser but there were soon problems with the supply chain because everybody wanted to buy it.

“We’re grateful to Murray & Yeatman and to all of our other suppliers for helping us protect our drivers and other frontline colleagues. Sometimes, what initially seems like a random idea ends up working out. We like using local suppliers too.”