Dundee University professor Jill Belch has revealed the personal story behind her ‘Masks for Scotland’ campaign.
In just under a week her campaign has raised £50,000 to equip medical staff across Scotland with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in their battle against Covid-19.
Jill’s campaign was backed from day one by a host of famous Scottish names, such as actors Alan Cumming and Brian Cox.
Which made the Tele wonder, how did she rally such high-profile support?
“The secret is that my daughter is actor Joanna Vanderham and her partner, Ben McIldowie, is musician Mr Hudson, so I’m afraid I have to give them all the credit for the famous names, who have been fantastic,” she revealed.
“It has been a family affair. They came up to visit me and then got caught in the lockdown and haven’t been able to get back to London, so they have been a fantastic help. I am just lucky that she is my kid.”
Jill is a doctor herself and has eight relatives in medical professions, most working on the front line. Two have already caught coronavirus and are isolating at home.
“Thankfully they are passed the five day period so we are feeling a little bit more relaxed about it now,” said Jill.
“One of those is on a general ward at the Perth Royal Infirmary and has taken it home to their partner who is on maternity leave at the moment but is a nurse too.”
Jill added: “We know that there have been complaints and worries from staff that they don’t have enough PPE. So, we thought people are so generous in this country, let’s raise some funds and help get more PPE in.
“Obviously the full gowns and proper masks have to go to the intensive care units – that is right and proper – but there are a lot of others who are coming in to contact with those who are very infectious, who need to be protected too.
“Medical staff working without PPE is like soldiers going to war without bullet-proof vests.”
The campaign has secured a reputable supplier of gowns, masks and gloves in Glasgow and the aim is to “get as much as possible”.
Two major donors are Scottish businesswoman Dame Ann Gloag and Angela Higgins, a well-known Glaswegian entrepreneur who is also co-ordinating the logistics of getting PPE to frontline staff.
Jill said: “I know that Scotland really rocks and it gets its act together and this has really shown it, so the generosity has been amazing. We can’t thank all our donors enough.”
“In the past day we have passed the £50,000 mark which is 25% of our total goal, which is just unbelievable to have achieved in under a week.
“We have also placed our first order of medical-grade eye protective equipment as well, it is absolutely great.”
Although Jill appreciates the government are now trying to get equipment out as quickly as possible, she thinks we could have been better prepared.
Jill added: “I don’t think now is the time for recriminations, as I don’t think it is helpful at the moment. However, I do think as a country we need to look at our plans for pandemics and questions need to be asked when this is all over.
“But now is the time for working together to help.”
To make a donation to visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/masks-for-scotland.