A former worker at Barbour South Shields firm has helped the company make thousands of protective gowns for the NHS.

UTS Engineering, which has its base at Jarrow, designed specialist machinery so that Barbour’s machines could cope with the heavier material needed to produce the protective gowns.

UTS was established in 2001 by Shaun Sadler, whose first job on leaving school was at Barbour.

The outdoor clothing brand has been praised for producing more than 1,000 disposable gowns a day for NHS trusts in the North East.

The Barbour factory in South Shields producing PPE
The Barbour factory in South Shields producing PPE


Mr Sadler said: “We are fighting a battle against an invisible enemy and companies must step up and use their resources to assist the national effort. The NHS staff are true heroes and we must keep them safe at all costs.

“Barbour is doing an absolutely amazing job at supplying our NHS trusts with PPE at an incredibly fast rate and we are eager to help them in any way we can. So far, we have donated two rigs which we designed and assembled from scratch.

“We are looking at other things we can do to help assist production. It is heartening to see that local people and local companies are coming together to support our communities and NHS workers.

“I have a strong affinity to Barbour as it was my first place of employment upon leaving sixth form. The memories I have of my time at the company are very fond and having learnt a great deal whilst I was there, the experience was without a doubt a huge benefit to my career.

“When Tom Sweeney, who I worked alongside 30 years ago, reached out, I was thrilled to hear from him and more than happy to assist Barbour. We mobilised an eight-strong team, headed by our research and development manager, Tony Chambers, who designed the equipment and had the rigs ready within hours.

“I take great pride in the quality of our products and the service we provide clients but this had a different and emotional meaning behind it for myself and the team. We owe our NHS workers a huge debt and I am thankful that UTS Engineering is in a position to work alongside a local company which is doing everything it can to protect those on the frontline.”

Tom Sweeney, product development and technical services manager at Barbour, said: “We would like to thank Shaun and everyone at UTS Engineering for their support. The rolls of fabric we use for PPE gowns are far heavier than those we normally use.

“The rigs supplied by UTS Engineering enable us to handle these rolls and have been crucial in our ability to adapt the factory to make PPE. Shaun’s enthusiasm and willingness to help is very much appreciated and it demonstrates what can be achieved when local companies come together in the fight against COVID-19.”

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