A Oswestry distillery has switched production from spirits to hand sanitiser, in a bid to help the county’s hospitals during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Henstone Distillery, based in Oswestry, has been using the alcohol it has to make the currently in-demand, effective hand wash for The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH), Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), and local care homes.

For the time-being, the distillery has halted production of alcoholic drinks to instead focus its attention on producing bottles of hand sanitiser.

After seeing a number of posts on social media regarding the shortages of the hand wash, the distillery tracked down the ingredients listed on the World Health Organisation’s website.

Allison Parr, one of the Directors of Henstone Distillery, said: “We’ve just wanted to do what we can to help NHS staff during these difficult times. They’re working absolutely tirelessly, in really tough circumstances, so we’re thrilled that we can help them in some way.

“We’d seen that distilleries in America had been making hand wash, so we just thought ‘hang on a minute – why can’t we’?”

She said the process had been more challenging than the team had first envisaged, due to difficulty in tracking down some of the key ingredients, as well as working their way around the red tape, which had been in place.

“We’ve had to get around a fair bit of red tape to ensure we are legally allowed to do this but thankfully HMRC changed the rules last week, which means we can do this without paying duty on the alcohol,” she said.

Both RJAH and SaTH have received delivery of the hand wash this week.

Stacey Keegan, Acting Chief Executive at RJAH, said: “A huge thank you to the team at Henstone Distillery and Stonehouse Brewery, who have produced and supplied us with vital supplies of hand sanitiser, which they’ve produced at the distillery.

“Their efforts are making a big difference to the county’s hospitals and care homes. We can’t thank you enough for what you’re doing.”

Julia Clarke, Director of Corporate Services at SaTH, said: “I’d like to say a big thank you to Henstone Distillery for the very kind donation of hand sanitiser. It’s fantastic to see how many local companies are rallying around our NHS staff and wider community, and we can’t thank them enough.

“We now have a dedicated email address if people would like to offer the Trust support at this time; people can contact we.supportsath@nhs.net.”