Four children holding up pieces of fruit

Bubble & Squeak

GREAT Inspirations celebrates some of the many UK businesses, organisations and individuals that have done extraordinary things during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As companies reopen and adjust across the UK, we are shining a light on some who have gone above and beyond for their customers, their employees or their communities and who have innovatively adapted to a new way of doing business.

Whether it’s making sure vulnerable customers have well-stocked fridges, shifting production to support the national effort, devising creative solutions to keep communities connected, or delivering socially distanced entertainment, our GREAT Inspirations all have fantastic stories to tell.

Meet our GREAT Inspirations

The designs of a new breathing aid developed by engineers at UCL and Formula One have been made freely available and have been downloaded by over 100 countries worldwide.

Local women in Mozambique holding children

Kenmare Resources donated 8 ventilators and 50 CPAP machines to health authorities in Mozambique. The miner also donated over 23,000 masks, hand sanitation kits and other PPE to local communities.

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The Vodacom Tanzania Foundation has donated over $800,000 to support government efforts in combating spread of COVID-19 pandemic, including purchasing medical equipment and supporting awareness campaigns.

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The University of Cambridge has designed an open-source ventilator in partnership with local clinicians, engineers and manufacturers across Africa, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

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Kortext and 2Simple have provided online access to study material and prescribed textbooks for students and teachers across South Africa during COVID-19.

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Diageo is providing a $100 million recovery fund to support to support bars and pubs as they welcome customers back through a new global programme, “Raising the Bar”.

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OakNorth provided food kits for 2,000 socio-economically underprivileged families in Delhi NCR and Bengaluru during the COVID-19 lockdown, distributed safely by the Akshaya Patra Foundation.

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Chivas Brothers became NHS Scotland’s first pro-bono hand sanitiser supplier. They have produced tens of thousands of bottles to 235 social care providers and charities across Scotland in the fight against COVID-19.

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Fullgreen donated 25,000 packs of riced veggies to families in need across the US and the UK, ensuring they had healthy food on the table throughout the lockdown period.

Woman standing in front of a pub holding a small crate of vegetables

 Local Aylesbury pub The King's Head worked together with their restaurant menu suppliers to host a farmers' market so that customers could purchase locally produced goods.

Four children holding up pieces of fruit

Kids-run social enterprise Bubble & Squeak rescues surplus food and redistributes it to local parents and after-school cooking clubs. During the crisis, the enterprise delivered food parcels to families in need.

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Robbie Allen launched The Thriving Box Company to support local businesses by enabling customers to shop for high-quality products such as artisan food, art and coffee, delivered straight to their door.

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Virti is using its immersive training platform to upskill the NHS workforce to tackle COVID-19, supplying tailored training to frontline healthcare and community staff both in the UK and internationally.

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Penlon & Surface Technology International (STI) are working with the VentilatorChallengeUK Consortium to ramp up ventilator production. By mid-June they had made around 7000 ventilators.

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Black Box Cake, an exclusive baking company that delivers delectable cakes in the post, continued to provide their delightful treats to the community by flexing delivery during the crisis. 

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Applegarth Farm transformed overnight from a restaurant to delivering essential fresh produce. The local community offered donations which the farm matched, producing 2,250 food hampers for NHS workers in 6 weeks.

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London South East Colleges launched its FE Foodback Friday initiative, aimed at supporting people in local communities struggling to afford basic food provisions. Over 30 colleges have raised £40,000.

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While her shop was closed during lockdown, Toks Aruoture of luxury baby boutique The Baby Cot Shop created video consultations to provide advice and support to her community of parents.

Woman holding up a bottle of gin

The team at Brighton Gin jumped on their pushbikes to deliver products, while also pivoting production to hand sanitiser. For every unit sold, two have been donated to front line workers. 

People working on equipment in a brewery

Double-Barrelled’s beer, Applause, was produced as a thank you to key workers, with donations made to the NHS Charities Together. The brewery provided contactless donation collection for the Reading foodbank.

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The University of Dundee has been offering its scientific and technological expertise, providing robots for the national diagnostic centre as well as assistance with anti-inflammatory drug trialling and reopening dental services.

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Ingenica Solutions provided visibility of stock quantity for inventory at the Nightingale Hospitals through their innovative management system. Their invaluable support helped the NHS to source and distribute PPE.

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When lockdown was first introduced, founder of Ainsty Ales brewery Andy Herrington set up a community drive-thru to provide essential food supplies to the elderly residents of local village Acaster Malbis.  

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Glass interior and partitioning company Architectural Wallsz used Government business support schemes to act quickly, using their expertise to produce partitioned rooms for Nightingale Hospitals.

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Through its Border Community Support foundation, Border Biscuits donated more than 110,000 sweet treats to NHS and care home staff working across the country during the crisis.

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BT responded to the needs of parents and families in lockdown all over the world by creating 70 new 'Skills for Tomorrow' resources, including mini missions and interactive games to help kids learn at home.

Woman carrying a crate containing paper bags

Shipbourne Farmers’ Market, normally hosted in a church, introduced a new way for its customers to shop, allowing them to pre-order online from over 20 producers with contactless collection.

Two people in a workshop handling materials

TRB Lightweight Structures redeployed its staff and machinery to produce reusable face visors for hospitals and care homes, pivoting production in just seven days and producing around 1,000 face shields per week.

People handling boxes at the back of a lorry

Food company MornFlake Cereal is an active part of the Defra Care Parcel Scheme and provided 2.2 million food packs for vulnerable people across the UK.

People stood around crates of food

The owner of restaurants Troia, Westminster Kitchen and Cucina, founded the Kebab Alliance to provide food to London hospitals. Over 10,000 meals have been created for NHS workers.

Man holding components of face visors

K Sharp, a human sciences research company, lent their 3D printing machine to produce desperately needed PPE at short notice.

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Managing Director of British watch company Fears forfeited his own salary and took on shifts at his local Asda supermarket to ensure he could continue to support staff and suppliers.

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Creative Technology have dedicated the processing power capacity of its media servers to scientific research – setting up a server farm to support the Folding@Home project run by Stanford University.

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Holborn Community Association adapted their regular sport, play and art activities to support over 350 people with doorstep help, telephone befriending and online virtual art activities for all ages.  

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Produce from Nottingham Trent University’s vertical farm was donated during the pandemic. Tracy’s Street Kitchen received pak choi, spinach, swiss chard and lettuce to help feed the homeless.

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The Landmark Trust provided NHS frontline workers with a stress-free haven to reduce their accommodation worries, helping them to relocate safely whilst protecting their families.

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One Year No Beer helped to tackle alcohol consumption during lockdown by offering their 28-day challenge for free, with the team sacrificing their own salary for three months.

Man holding up bottles of hand sanitizer

When coronavirus hit, rum manufacturer Taxi Spirit Co switched its production to hand sanitiser, producing and distributing over 5,000 bottles free to local healthcare organisations.

Man stood in a distillery

Welsh malt whisky distillery company Penderyn has been supplying high-quality hand sanitisers and has made donations to several local charities.

Child cleaning their hands at a hand sanitiser station

Playdale, manufacturer of outdoor children’s playground equipment, held an innovation challenge to help with the opening of play areas, developing the world’s first outdoor, no-touch, automatic hand sanitiser station.

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The Ramblers Guest House is preparing new measures to keep customers safe as easing of lockdown takes place in July, including sanitisation in every guest room and socially distanced breakfast options.

People watching an outdoor concert

Sound Level Events delivered the UK's first Drive In Live Music Event in Southampton. Music lovers were able to see their favourite musicians perform alongside rising talents, all while social distancing.

A can of Camden Heroes beer

Camden Town Brewery rebranded its signature Camden Hells lager as Camden Heroes, with proceeds going to charity and free beers for NHS heroes.

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The founder of This Mum Runs encouraged her 80,000-strong Facebook community of runners to help deliver prescriptions to  elderly and vulnerable people shielding in Bristol.

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Home fragrance brand Wax Lyrical transformed the business from producing candles and reed diffusers to creating 70%-alcohol hand sanitisers and fragrance surface sprays.

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William Morris London immediately diversified its product range to include safety equipment for opticians providing emergency and essential eyecare to patients, including extending its PPE range with eyewear UV steriliser.

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Sheffield-based Anchor Magnets have created workplace safety screens and signage that can be repurposed as social distancing measures change. They have also created fridge magnets to raise money for the NHS.

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To help her business community post-COVID-19, Roz Colthart, founder of co-working hub Salon Studios, has launched Salonpreneur, a free digital platform that will support self-employed salon professionals.

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Sign Link founder and sign maker Sam McClean decorated shop fronts and vehicles with balloon-shaped stickers to thank the NHS. Sticker sales have now raised over £100,000 for NHS charities.

Woman holding a paper bag in one hand and beauty products in the other hand

Essex-based Lauren Ezekiel launched the ‘We C U 2020’ campaign, which has seen over 300,000 beauty products donated and distributed to NHS workers in more than 200 hospitals across the country.

Woman holding an iPad and an iPhone

CARDMEDIC was set up to help hospital staff communicate with patients through their PPE by using a digital flashcard system. It now has over 35,000 users in 120 countries.

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Leith Distillery flexed its usual gin and whiskey production to produce hand sanitiser for the local community. To cope with the demand, they had to use their distinctive gin bottles as containers.

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Countryside Properties established a £1m charitable fund as a vital financial lifeline for food banks, charities, community groups and housing associations, highlighting its commitment to building communities.

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CEL-UK supported users of its 3D Robox printers by helping to create much-needed PPE equipment with approved designs from the NHS.

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At London-based hospitality company Inception Group, alongside work to reopen safely they have launched a £25,000 bar tab spread across their eclectic venues for NHS workers.

People working in a production room

Robert PD Frost & Co made its work environment COVID-19 secure using portable enclosures manufactured in-house. Staff could then continue working throughout the crisis, without furloughing or making any redundancies.

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Spiffy partnered with designer Angela Chick to create the ‘Anxious Minds in Uncertain Times’ planner, pledging to donate £2 from each sale to NHS charities supporting the COVID-19 response.

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Ulster University's Community Fellows have been delivering grow boxes in the local community. The University has also donated laptops to local primary schools to help with teaching from home.

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Blackpool-based Mrs Johnson's Emporium of Wool and Haberdashery worked with its customers to make thousands of facemasks, ear-savers and kit bags for keyworkers as well as toys for children throughout lockdown.

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Medical students at Newcastle University set up the North East’s ‘Helping Hands’ initiative, giving health workers free assistance with childcare, shopping and animal care.

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Boxer, trainer and mental health mentor Dave Earle's Spit'n'Sawdust boxing gym in Banbury has been providing free online fitness and wellbeing classes for NHS workers throughout lockdown.

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Lorien and Kevin Cameron-Ross of Loch Ness Spirits were quick to pivot their operations when COVID-19 struck, donating hand sanitiser made at the distillery to local frontline workers. 

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Ness Labs quickly built an online learning platform to provide customers with their neuroscience-based virtual training and services. From an initial customer base of 50, the platform now has over 500 learners.

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HORIBA MIRA supported the national effort by providing the NHS with 3D printers to produce face shields for carers and offered free use of its Proving Ground for customers.

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Jim Reid Vehicle Sales loaned three cars to the North East Rider Volunteers Scotland, who have been giving lifts to NHS staff who cannot use public transport to get to work.

People working in a production facility

Northern Ireland-based Bloc Blinds repurposed its production line from blinds to PPE equipment, producing 22,000 FaceShields per day in the first week to help support the fight against COVID-19.

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Over 500 NHS staff registered for the free rental scheme with Brompton Bike Hire for commuting. The company created  ‘Wheels for Heroes’, a crowdfunding campaign which raised £318,000.

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Cambridge-born AI company Darktrace  has offered its cyber AI software to the UK's National Health Service for free, to help defend their IT systems from cyber attacks.

Two workers wearing face masks packing fruit and vegetables into boxes

Supporting young Londoners, Fat Macy's has pivoted to start a fresh fruit and veg delivery box service, while also delivering freshly made dine-at-home suppers and opening a social enterprise gift hamper service.

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Wales-based sustainable packaging specialist Transcend Packaging switched its focus towards manufacturing face visors. It has produced over 7 million shields, with the company having received orders from the world over.

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OurBoards CIC is supporting local families in Greater Manchester to home-school children with hidden disabilities during lockdown, with online workshops explaining how to use their communication boards.

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Autins responded to the crisis rapidly, repurposing its Neptune product (usually used for insulation in automotive applications) to create water-repellent, washable face masks. Over 100,000 masks are being produced per week.

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Gardiner Graphics Supplies Europe repurposed its resources to manufacture PPE, creating up to 20,000 units per day. The manufacturer also identified the need for a child-sized, lightweight version for schools.

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Launched by Shana Doherty, Generosity Bank enables talented people to donate their time and expertise to small businesses, promoting a sense of community and helping them thrive during the crisis. 

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Lincolnshire-based SL Engineering  responded to the Government’s call for help with manufacturing ventilators, volunteering to make ventilator components for the NHS via the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium.

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Throughout lockdown, wine bar and deli To Be Consumed has offered free contactless delivery within the local area by bike or on foot to supply bespoke orders to its customers.

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Informed Solutions expanded its InformedACADEMY© skills development programme to impacted businesses in the North West region, adding 22 partners and adapting it for online delivery.

Man stood outside holding a piece of paper which says Tourism

The Marketing Collective, a destination marketing company, supported tourism businesses in Hampshire with social content for their virtual tours and children’s activity packs, as well as free SEO training.