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Providing ear defenders to frontline workers

By Andrew Pirie

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen society pull together in different ways to support NHS and social care staff during this challenging time, and Oliver Shepherd, a 16-year-old A-level student is one of them, showing maturity and empathy beyond his years.

Oliver had been paying close attention to issues that healthcare professionals were experiencing around discomfort from prolonged use of disposable face masks. He began researching alternative ways of securing masks and how 3D printers were being used in countries such as Australia and the United States of America to create face shields. After finding a pattern, Oliver made some tweaks, began manufacturing flexible ear defenders and distributing them to different healthcare settings.

It is a time-consuming process and takes 55 minutes to produce seven ear defenders, but he has said that he will continue to do so for as long as they are needed. We wanted to take this opportunity to commend Oliver for his proactive nature and for donating his spare time and efforts into supporting the healthcare community. We have purchased 1,000 of these ear defenders and will be sending them out to our candidates and clients.


We speak to Oliver about how he started the project and the feedback he has received:

“I initially started by printing them and sharing them on local Facebook pages. I have been amazed by how popular they have been. Many people have contacted me directly – in the last few weeks, I have given some to Southampton General Hospital for their A&E and mental health wards, as well as many local care homes and community hospitals. I estimate that I’ve donated over 500 ear defenders – it’s lovely to know that I can help them in some small way.”

“With this particular pattern, I was able to adjust the design which means that they offer a better fit. I have had many emails from people saying that throughout a shift they now have much higher comfort levels. One user told me that they were using my ear defenders with service users who had learning disabilities. They were extremely uncomfortable wearing the disposable face masks, but the ear defenders have proven to be effective. It’s great to hear feedback like that.”

We are always looking for ways to help and support our community. If you have any ideas on how we can help you, please get in touch.