Just Brew-Ti-Ful: Firefighter Entrepreneurs Serve Up 20,000 Cups of Coffee to COVID-19 Key Workers

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Two firefighter entrepreneurs handed out over 20,000 cups of coffee to frontline key workers, including Ambulance staff, during September as they geared up for a second spike in the pandemic.

Matt Broxton, 28, and Tom Taylor, 28, decided to set up an online coffee company because the instant coffee at the fire stations they both worked at was ‘terrible’ and ‘tasted like tarmac’.

They felt all key workers involved in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic ‘deserved a decent cup of coffee’. The young founders set up Frontline Coffee with its profits donated to emergency service and health charities.

The pair has sold 4741.25kg of coffee so far which at 7g a cup is the equivalent of 677,321 cups of coffee with 20,000 of those going direct to the frontline for free during the UK lockdown in the spring.

Matt Broxton (Left) and Tom Taylor (Right)

Frontline Coffee aims to support frontline charities ‘one coffee bean at a time’ and has so far raised over £17,000 with donations made to NHS Charities Together, the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution), TASC (The Ambulance Staff Charity) and The Firefighters Charity.

Matt said: “Our emergency and health services are the best in the world, but they are only the best because of the people that make them up. We strive to be a company that supports these amazing people.

Matt Broxton

“Me and Tom both have a passion for real coffee so we always used to joke about how terrible the instant coffee was at the fire station and how it used to taste like tarmac.

“In the fire service after you’ve been out on a ‘shout’ to a house fire or had to deal with a difficult situation, it’s a typically British thing to do to have a coffee or cup of tea.

“When lockdown happened and key workers were having to deal with the enormity of Covid-19, we felt these people would be in even more need of a good cup of coffee when they finally sat down for a break.

“That is why we made it our mission to get good coffee to key workers working exceptionally hard during these troubling times in hospitals, police, fire and ambulance stations during the UK lockdown.

“Our soul mission is also to raise awareness about the great work our frontline services do and raise money for their respective charities. We’re absolutely delighted to have raised more than £17,000 so far.”

Frontline Coffee has taken off so rapidly that Matt has left his job as a firefighter with the London Fire Brigade to focus on their social enterprise full-time. Tom, meanwhile, still works for the Devon and Somerset fire service.

Matt and Tom’s collection includes a blend for each emergency service such as ‘First Response’ supporting TASC, the ‘Bevan Blend’ for NHS Charities Together (named after its creator, Aneurin Bevan), ‘The Thin Red Line’ for Firefighter Charity, and more. Frontline Coffee also sell grinders, brewing kits, specialist tea and merchandise.

The pair got started with one second hand industrial roaster and it is now manufactured on a grand scale in the south west of England. Matt and Tom hand-picked the coffee beans to match the exact taste the pair were looking for. They hand-pack orders themselves before arranging deliveries to customers.

Tom said: “We never expected Frontline Coffee to take off like this but it grew legs so we had to make a decision that one of us would have to take it on full-time.’

Tom Taylor

“We decided that Matt would be better pushing it further on a day-to-day basis as he had created the website and runs all of our social media.’

“We didn’t want to look back in 10 years’ time and say ‘what if?’. We had spoken quite a few times about setting up something for charity and giving something back.’

“The sudden arrival of Covid-19 brought Frontline Coffee forward quicker than either of us ever imagined. It has just been an amazing journey so far.”

Working in the Frontline services clearly runs in both families. Matt’s mum, Jannette was a nurse, and his Dad, Gary and uncle, Ron, were both in the Royal Navy, while girlfriend Rosie, who is Tom’s cousin, is also a nurse. Tom’s wife, Kirsty, meanwhile, is a police detective.

Matt added: “Both mine and Tom’s families both have a history of working for frontline services so I guess we all have it in our blood to help people. Now more than ever, we aim to support our key workers through this next set of challenging times.”

Commendation for Life-Saving Police Officers

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The Welsh Ambulance Service has recognised the quick-thinking actions of three South Wales Police officers after they came to the aid of a man who suffered a heart attack at work.

PCs Darren Westall from the Roads Policing Unit at Gwaelod Y Garth, Heledd Roberts and Catherine Frost, both based in Barry, were awarded a Chief Executive’s Commendation by Jason Killens, Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, accompanied by South Wales Police Chief Inspector Tony Williams.

The trio of PCs were on duty on 03 April this year when a 51-year-old local bus driver pulled his vehicle over on Barry’s Porthkerry Street complaining of chest pains.

The driver was suffering what would later be described as a “massive heart attack” and a concerned member of the public flagged down nearby Roads Policing Officer PC Westall, who became the first trained person present.

He said: “An ambulance had been called, but I knew there was a defibrillator at the station and with it being close by called in for immediate assistance.”

His colleagues, PCs Roberts and Frost were on response duty and arrived on scene in minutes with the Automated Electronic Defibrillator from outside Barry police station.

Left to Right: PC Frost, Andrew Howell the High Sheriff of South Glamorgan, PC Westall, Jason Killens and PC Roberts

PC Roberts said: “The driver had been moved from his cab to a more spacious seat but collapsed to the ground as his condition worsened.

“We took the decision to deploy the defibrillator as he had lost consciousness and stopped breathing.

“We used the defibrillator and he began breathing again immediately.”

The ambulance arrived soon after and took the patient to the University Hospital Wales, Cardiff where he underwent emergency surgery.

The ambulance service confirmed at the time that the use of the defibrillator had no doubt saved the man’s life.

Making the commendation at Barry ambulance station, Jason Killens said: “Having medically trained colleagues across the emergency services can make all the difference when every second counts.

“The quick thinking and selfless nature of these police officers kick-started the chain of survival for the patient and helped ensure a positive outcome.

“I am proud to present this commendation to these amazing public servants and thank them for everything they have done and continue to do in keeping our communities safe.”

Praising his officers, Chief Inspector Tony Williams, said: “The officers’ quick thinking and the defibrillator have ultimately saved this gentleman’s life.

“Despite the current climate, our officers remain on the frontline, responding to spontaneous incidents, serving communities and doing their very best to keep everyone safe.

“It is pleasing to know we have officers like PC Westall, Roberts and Frost among our ranks.

“Without their calm and quick-thinking actions, professionalism and bravery, the outcome for the bus driver and his loved ones could have been very different.

“I am very proud of their actions and we wish the gentleman a full and speedy recovery.”

Speaking of the commendation, PC Frost said: “We are all honoured and privileged to accept this award.

“Ultimately, we were just doing our jobs and to be commended by our partners in the ambulance service is a pleasant and unexpected surprise.”

The event was also attended by the High Sheriff of South Glamorgan, Andrew Howell.

The Fleet Manager’s Immediate Solution to the Costs of Dirty Diesel

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By Carl Rees,
Director, Kognitive LTd.

Having worked in the NHS for the past 25 years I was not surprised to learn that the health service is responsible for around 4% of the nation’s carbon emissions.

To combat this, at the beginning of October the NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens laid out his vision for the NHS to be the world’s first ‘net zero’ national health service, setting a target of becoming carbon net zero by 2040 and cutting harmful emissions by 80 per cent over the next 12 years (Delivering a Net Zero National Health Service, October 2020).

The fact this has remained a top priority during the worst pandemic we have experienced in modern times speaks volumes and underlines how seriously the NHS is taking the issue of climate change and its own contribution to the problem.  

It is accepted that change will not happen overnight and it will take time to implement fully sustainable, green policies locally that will contribute to Sir Simon’s plan. But what can hospitals, primary care organisations, ambulance services and other parts of the health service do immediately to make an instant impact on reducing their emissions?

The same question can be asked of police and fire and rescue services, which also have a duty to cut their own significant carbon emissions in the coming months and years.

One answer lies in replacing their use of fossil diesel fuel by switching their fleet vehicles and generators to GREEND+, a new, enhanced form of HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) paraffinic fuel that is a sustainable, ultra-low emission fossil-free diesel alternative.

Using GREEND+ fuel reduces particulate emissions by up to 85% and Nitrogen Oxides by up to 30% compared to regular diesel, according to independent tests at the Millbrook specialist vehicle testing facility. NHS organisations and emergency services can significantly lower their emissions overnight, greatly reducing their environmental impact while achieving huge improvements to local air quality and the reduction of carbon dioxide, reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions by up to 96%.

Importantly, GREEND+ can be used immediately and without any changes to equipment or fuel tanks, meaning organisations can take climate change action quickly with no costly upgrades to machinery or equipment. This also includes no changes required to the engines of any fleet vehicles; this is a drop-in solution and it is ready to go now, and best of all, it is cost neutral with no capital expenditure required.

To me, it is an absolute no-brainer, which is why private sector organisations are already clamouring to get their hands on this sustainable new fuel. The public sector should not miss the same opportunity, and the NHS and emergency services are key players who can make a significant immediate impact on the environment by switching to this new fuel.

In terms of the product itself, it looks like water and has virtually no smell, unlike dirty diesel. It is made from sustainable organic waste products – not virgin crops – to EN15940 standard. It is stored and dispensed in the same way as normal fuel, but it requires less cleaning around the storage site than normal diesel.

Another key factor is that it does not degenerate in the tank or in storage, and therefore needs no ‘cleaning’ or ‘polishing’ as normal diesel does. It is safe at temperatures down to minus 42.

Fleet managers will love it because using the fuel leads to better performance and longevity of engines, due to no contaminants being in the fuel, less wear in the engine and improved performance of engine lubricants. There are also proven reduced active DPF regenerations and reduced consumption of AdBlue, while data shows that using GREEND+ can improve MPG rates on urban routes too.

In summary this is the here and now solution for the NHS and emergency services journey to net zero emissions. By playing their part, emergency services and NHS organisations can enable immediate improvements in local air quality and reductions in PM2.5, known to be a key factor in respiratory disease.

When you consider 11.3 vehicles on the road using GREEND+ have the same carbon dioxide emissions as one diesel vehicle, this proves that the NHS and emergency services sector can do something simple to help reduce their carbon footprint by acting now, and taking advantage of what is a great bridge between the diesel vehicles we have today and the electric vehicles of the future.

For more information about GREEND+ or to arrange a meeting, please contact carl.rees@kognitive.co.uk

£4.8m Investment for Lincolnshire Specialist Vehicle Conversion Business

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As part of exciting expansion plans, specialist vehicle conversion business, Cartwright Conversions Ltd has been bought by the owners of Sheffield-based company Trek Group.

Cartwright Conversions Ltd was a subsidiary of the Cartwright Group that recently went into administration. The new company will now be known as Cartwright Vehicle Conversions Ltd and is based in Belton, North Lincolnshire.

The purchase by Trek Group has also saved 66 jobs at the company which is a specialist convertor for blue light emergency vehicles, Ambulances, Police, Security, and Fire.

Trek Group Managing Director, Tom Janion said: “I have been looking for some time to make a significant acquisition in the Commercial Vehicle and Emergency Services market, and to have secured the market leader really gives us the platform to realise our ambition.’

“I feel very privileged to be able to support such a fantastic company that Steve Shaw and his team have grown. This now makes Trek Group a major player in the Commercial Vehicle and Emergency Services market.’

“With the investment we are making in Cartwright Vehicle Conversions we will be able to develop new innovations that make a real difference to our customers.”

Image Credit: Manchester Commercial Photographer Tim Wallace. All vehicles from Cartwright Vehicle Conversions.

The business is also a key player in the Mobility and Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle market and has established a commercial division converting Welfare units, Support Vehicles and Mobile banking units.

Lead by Steve Shaw, who has established a highly skilled and dedicated team of industry professionals, Cartwright Vehicle Conversions Ltd is also a key player in the Ambulance hire market and a supplier to the NHS.

Steve also commented on the good news, saying: “I would like to thank the customer base for their incredible support through the last few weeks. The support has been overwhelming and it is a testament to the strength of relationship and the quality products we produce.’

“It is fantastic to be able to give security to all our employees and thank them for their dedication and loyalty over these difficult few weeks.’

“I look forward to working with Tom, his enthusiasm and investment will allow me to take this business to the next level.”

The full management team will remain in place to ensure that customers have continuity of experiencing quality products and great customer service.