Shout outs to Somerset heroes during the lockdown

PUBLISHED: 00:00 25 May 2020

Rebecca Linnell

Rebecca Linnell


In a world where we all care so much about our community’s welfare, we highlight just a few of our Somerset heroes.

Kayleigh EcshKayleigh Ecsh


A college lecturer has turned his spare room into a mini factory to make personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare staff.

Dan Basra would normally be teaching IT and engineering at Strode College in Street but, with the help of his partner Kayleigh Ecsh (pictured above), he’s now using 3D printers to make head bands and face shields, which they then fit with either OHP acetate films or A4 laminating pouches to make PPE.

Their first delivery of 30 face shields went to Candlelight Care head office in Glastonbury and they went on to produce about 64 a day.

Strode College gave the couple all its 3D printers to help boost production. The college has also donated safety glasses from its science labs to local GP surgeries and boxes of protective gloves to the NHS Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group and Somerset County Council for their work across the county’s health and care system.



Eloise Whitehouse, 13, from Keinton Mandeville has created a support network for 68 residents at four local care homes. The Millfield school pupil, whose mum owns and works in the homes, collects messages of support from fellow students that she distributes to residents, along with the lovely activities she’s created.



Key workers’ children at Mama Bear’s Day Nursery in Taunton have been sending cheerful drawings to help brighten the day for residents at Abbeyfield and at Camelot House and Lodge in Wellington.

Nursery manager Kerry Sturmey says: “The children wanted to let the residents know they were thinking of them.”



A couple from Taunton have set up a nationwide scheme to help look after the pets of key workers and vulnerable people during the coronavirus outbreak.

More than 5,000 volunteers across the country have signed up to help with the project run by Rebecca Linnell and Mike Walton of The Country Dog Hotel. The scheme, which has the backing of some well-known supporters, including Harry Redknapp, David Gandy and Lorraine Kelly, offers help with all aspects of pet care, including foster care and dog walking sessions.

People who need extra support with their pets are matched with volunteers from their local postcode area.

Rebecca and Mike have owned, fostered and rescued dogs for most of their lives and were fully aware of the impact the lockdown would be having on pets and owners.

“I know that there are lots of people out there who will value this extra support for their beloved pets at this unprecedented and difficult time,” says Rebecca.

If you need help with your pet due to the coronavirus restrictions you can email Rebecca and Mike on or call 07399 286092.



Teachers from Exmoor schools are working with park rangers to help get food supplies to remote moorland households.

Staff from Exford, Cutcombe, Dunster, St Dubricius and Timberscombe schools are making up and delivering food boxes, with the help of the rangers. The boxes, which contain a range of essential items, have been getting to families where children are eligible for free school meals.

They are put together at Dunster First School, which is open for the schooling of key workers’ children and has its own kitchen.

Headteacher Naomi Philp (pictured) says: “Schools are the heart of communities; we have to do all we can, we have to be innovative, creative and determined to find solutions.”



After hearing about how hard-working the staff were at her local nursing home, 12-year-old Sofia Nichols set to work baking cakes.

Sofia had heard about the Avalon team through her mum, Charlotte, who is a friend of Sarah.

Charlotte delivers the cakes during her daily exercise, calling the home on her phone to let them know when they are on the doorstep.


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