Devon Air Ambulance and Luminous Show Technology donate PPE to health workers

As an air ambulance charity whose mission is to relieve sickness and injury in and around the county of Devon, you wouldn’t have thought that Devon Air Ambulance would have much cause to deal with a company specialising in theatrical special effects.

But that is exactly what happened just a few weeks ago when they were approached by Luminous Show Technology based in Devon.

Luminous had found a way to completely diversify from their usual business and realised that some of the ingredients they used on a day to day basis would enable them to join the challenge in supplying the nation with much needed supplies.

Devon Air Ambulance was therefore extremely grateful when they kindly offered to donate some of those much needed products to their clinical team which would help to protect them from COVID-19.

Who is Luminous Show Technology?

Luminous Show Technology was founded in 2017 by Ed Samkin and Mike Badley who each has in excess of 20 years working in the entertainment industry. They have worked on some of the biggest shows in the world including The London 2012 Olympics to box office film hits like Batman and Inception.

Luminous has also produced hardware for global productions such as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child stage production, Paul McCartney’s world tour, and the FA Cup Final at Wembley.

Why the diversification? Co-founder Ed Samkin explained that: ‘COVID-19 effectively closed the live entertainment industry over night. This has seen many of our projects postponed, frozen or reduced in size which has had a significant impact on our cash flow and ability to operate the company.

‘By mid March we started to notice many supply issues of different personal protective equipment (PPE) products to front line healthcare workers. As a company who has health and safety at the forefront of our day to day activities this resonated with us. We are a proud British manufacturing firm, so saw this as an opportunity to help.

Samkin added that: ‘I looked into this further and quickly established the WHO formula and preparation processes for hand sanitiser was something we could do. Conveniently the main liquid solvent we used for fuel in our flame projectors was also the main ingredient in this type of alcohol sanitiser.

‘We diverted our resources to quickly source plastic bottles with closures, design labels and get the additional chemicals and manufacturing tooling required. We logged our intention to supply with the HSE so we could get a permit to supply the product.

He noted that: ‘While this was being set up, we established another type of PPE item in demand disposable face shield. There were many other initiatives to make 3D printed versions but we quickly determined these were time-consuming to make, we devised an alternative solution that had four components which could be produced with laser cutters and mechanical punches.

‘We started a crowd funder campaign to try to generate both interest in our products and to open doors to NHS and healthcare procurement teams.

He stated that: ‘Our fund raiser was allowing us to make the sanitiser and face shields and send them to places that urgently needed them, which was our ultimate goal. To date we have supplied over 1200 items free of charge to the end user through the generous donations of the public:

  • 200 face shields to Bristol Royal Infirmary
  • 100 face shields to Addenbrookes hospital
  • 300 face shields to Norfolk and Norwich university Hospital Charity
  • 50 face shields and some hand sanitiser to Devon Air Ambulance
  • 200 face shields to West Sussex NHS trust
  • 180 face shields and 50 bottles of sanitiser to the Royal British Legion care home for veterans

‘We have now established and quickly put together a website with an online shop, it is open for business for anyone who wants the products we offer.

‘This is an entirely new venture for us and we hope we can help supply anyone who requires the products we produce.

Samkin concluded that: ‘With Luminous we had a very particular, specialist skill set and were well connected in the entertainment industry so were lucky enough for work to find us. Hand cleaner is a completely different market and we are learning how best to tackle it each and every day.’