James O'Brien hails 'patriotic' caller's story of halting cancer treatment to deliver sanitiser

2 February 2022, 13:32

By Tim Dodd

James O'Brien was blown away by this caller whose husband 'patriotically' suspended his cancer treatment to deliver hand sanitiser made at their gin distillery amid lockdown shortages.

It comes as the Government has incurred losses of £8.7 billion on personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic, according to annual accounts.

New documents from the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) show huge sums of money were wasted on useless equipment.PPE worth £673 million was found to be totally unusable, and £750m was spent on items that were not used before their expiry date.

Zoe in Ulverston said: "We're a micro gin distillery, it's my husband and I... [We] hadn't been going very long. Lockdown came along, everything stopped, lost all our customers, lost everything.

"The day after the lockdown we were asked by our local hospice if we could make sanitiser. We got in touch with HMRC... they were saying, if you've got alcohol, use it, we'll sort the licenses out, get it out there.

"We felt morally there was no way we could charge people for this as it's a national emergency."

READ MORE: Govt accused of 'extreme negligence' after spending £0.5bn on PPE that can't be used

After running out of alcohol, Zoe managed to raise £6,500 through a JustGiving campaign to continue to make sanitiser.

Zoe explained: "My husband has a rare genetic disorder which means he produces a lot of skin cancer. So he made the decision to stop his continued treatment so that he wouldn't be vulnerable so he could do the delivery of everything."

James said: "Gosh. This is a sense of patriotic duty, is it?... It's above and beyond what most people do but it's an astonishing story actually. It's inspirational."

"To be perfectly honest, there were no thoughts about what we could or couldn't do, it was just a case of 'we have the means, we have the place'," Zoe replied.

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