Kilkeel's 'Time' Has Come

It’s been said, “time waits for no one.”

And it must be true. After all, The Rolling Stones devoted an entire song to the phrase in ‘74, near the peak of their influence and stardom. The swooning ballad features a seminal guitar solo, capping six and half minutes of rock and roll bliss.

“And time waits for no one, and it won’t wait for me.”

And sure enough, Father Time has not waited. Not even for The Stones.

Just like time, when the COVID-19 crisis presented a need in their community, the employees at our Kilkeel, Northern Ireland site didn’t wait -- they jumped into action.

Richard McBride, associate site director, Kilkeel, was home sitting on the couch when his wife, scrolling Facebook, noticed posts mentioning the massive scrub shortage Northern Ireland was facing. The supply of daily garb nurses, doctors and surgeons wear was dwindling. And fast.

Richard jumped off the sofa and into action.

He got together with a small group of engineers to brainstorm how the tools reserved for manufacturing seats that fly in airlines around the world could be used in the fight against COVID-19.

The group thought fabric cutters that cut composite components used to manufacture seating elements would be perfect for cutting scrub kits that could later be sewn together.

They were right.

“We were able to find some digital templates online and partner with a local furnishings company to get the fabric necessary to run through our machinery and get the scrub kits cut and ready to be sewn,” said Richard.

There are two sewing machines on-site in Kilkeel with people stitching the kits together as they come off the line. The remainder is shared with experienced sewers in the community to complete the job. The kits, each of which consists of a top, bottom and cap, are then collected at the furnishings company and sent to the National Health Service to distribute to healthcare systems and providers throughout the region.

The whole process happened fast. Just 24 hours after the idea’s genesis, the first set of scrubs were ready to be sewn together. Practically no time at all.

“We saw a perfect match where we could help during this devastating crisis. It’s the right thing to do and we have the capability to do it,” said Richard. “It’s a no brainer.”

At last check, the group has produced more than 2,000 total scrub kits with the ability to produce 550 kits a day. They’re making a significant impact on their community and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“The employees at the Kilkeel site take an immense amount of pride that the work they do can be used in an alternate way to help their neighbors during this unprecedented crisis.”

“There is a strong desire from them to do whatever we can to help right now. And they are.”

So yeah, The Rolling Stones were right, “time waits for no one, no favors has he.”

The employees in Kilkeel know that. They’re in the right place at the right time, filling a void in the face of a global disaster. And while they may not receive international fame like The Stones, they’re certainly rock stars.

scrubs created in Kilkeel

The scrub kits, consisting of a top, bottom and cap, are cut and then sewn together before being sent to the  NHS for distribution.