Community-spirited Freemason Matt's hand sanitiser fame spreads to Japan

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

The fame of community-spirited Lincolnshire gin distiller Matt Felgate has spread to the Far East, where he has featured on leading Japanese news web site Asahi Digital

Seeing the market for his Lincoln Gin evaporate almost overnight as the coronavirus crisis hit his normal customers and his trade stand diary, Freemason Matt switched to producing hand sanitiser only a week ago.

'We had 50 litres of high-strength alcohol we couldn’t use, so it seemed natural to turn it into hand sanitiser and give it away', he said. 'We’ll be making more.'

Asahi Digital reported: 'In the UK, where the spread of the new coronavirus is widespread, there is a shortage of hand sanitizers, and breweries and distilleries around the globe that make gin and beer that are famous for the UK have begun making disinfectants with their own equipment and materials. 

'As the government's infection control measures keep pubs and other customers closed, people who are at high risk of infection are being given away free of charge.

'Matthew Felgate, 36, who runs a gin distillery in Lincolnshire, eastern England, has made 150 litres of disinfectant based on advice from a local university and a formulation recommended by the World Health Organization. He looked at an empty shelf in a pharmacy and said, "I have a high concentration of alcohol, and just add a few ingredients to it. It's not that difficult.I don't want to make money for those in need, and offer it free to the elderly and those who work in emergency response."'

He called on SNS (social networking) and was connected to a local volunteer organization that brought the delivery. The helicopter staff brought in empty containers and packed them.

Others wanted to support his work, and urged him to set up a GoFundMe page through which they could offer financial support. He’s since done that, and created #CommunitySpirit, a not-for-profit initiative creating hand sanitiser for the community, vulnerable and hard to reach people in Lincolnshire. 

Matt said: 'The Lincoln Distillery originated the initiative to fill an urgent and hopefully short-lived requirement for the supply of alcohol-based hand sanitiser. There will be no charge to the end user. Costs of the materials, packaging, labelling and supply will be met by public/organisations donations and crowd funding, and those providing practical support for #CommunitySpirit will not derive a financial profit from this undertaking. Money left over will be donated to an appropriate charity in Lincolnshire, and the whole thing will be financially audited.'

Supported by other companies and friends Matt was quickly able to source packaging and labels for the sanitiser, enabling him to get the product out quickly. Reaching out through social media, Matt and his Lincoln Distillery have been able to give supplies to the county’s ambulance, fire, police and air ambulance services, as well as others locally and nationally.

Recipients included Garry Ratcliffe, CEO of a multi-academy Trust of three primary schools in Kent and parent to four disabled children, who he says are awesome. He said on Twitter: 'The Lincoln Gin company saw a request for sanitiser for our family and offered to send us some for free. What angels! Nothing in it for them. We don’t know them. They don’t know us. They just wanted to help.'

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