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Caithness distillery sanitiser handed over to the public

By Jean Gunn

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A hand sanitiser refill station at the Pulteney Centre in Wick.
A hand sanitiser refill station at the Pulteney Centre in Wick.

A distillery business has been kept busy supplying hand sanitiser for free distribution to the public in Caithness and north Sutherland.

"We have had an overwhelming response and requests to supply hand sanitiser," said Jacquie Black, a director of Ice and Fire Distillery.

Containers of the product, made to World Health Organisation guidelines, have been in demand throughout Caithness as well as in Helmsdale, Bettyhill and Tongue.

"We have been humbled by the messages and emails back from recipients showing their appreciation and we are just so glad we could do a small bit towards the fight against the pandemic," Jacquie said.

The distillery, based near Latheronwheel, switched its normal operations during the coronavirus crisis to make this new product and distribute it free to those who needed it most.

Supported by awards from the SSE Beatrice Caithness Fund and the E.ON Camster Community Fund, 4000 litres of denatured alcohol and other necessary ingredients were purchased by Ice and Fire to start a large-scale production.

Initially the hand sanitiser was made available for public services such as doctors' surgeries, shops and care workers, but now it is is being distributed to the public while stocks last.

Julie Marker, who is presently contracted as an admin and management lead with the Dunbeath and District Centre, as well as being a development officer with the Caithness Voluntary Group, has been involved in organising the delivery of the product around the community.

She explained that the Dunbeath and District Centre had got in touch with the Caithness Resilience Team to lead the distribution effort.

More than 2500 bottles of sanitiser have been handed out along with more than a dozen refill stations where people can top up their own bottles free.

Refill stations are provided at Dunbeath Surgery; P & N Stores, Dunbeath; Community Connections, Lybster; Lybster Day Care Centre; Smiddy Inn, Thrumster; Caithness Tyres, Wick; the Pulteney Centre, Wick; Seaview Hotel, John O'Groats; Thurso Community Development Trust (youth club, Millbank); Caithness Foodbank in Thurso; Castletown (the church hall at Castletown and Community Free Church); Bettyhill Stores and Post Office; and Helmsdale Hub.

A refill station for Sinclair Bay Community Council area, including Reiss, is by appointment – message the community council Facebook page or email sinclairbaycc@hotmail.co.uk or text 07788481178. There is one at Wick railway station for staff only.

Bottles were also delivered to individuals going into hospital, frontline workers and people who are shielding.

Julie added: "We have a few bottles left if any groups need top-ups and we could possibly get more if people run out.

"Our volunteer drivers used Caithness Rural Transport to deliver hand sanitiser and to deliver meals.

"This week we are distributing activity packs to primary school children – these were supplied by the Boys' Brigade in Thurso."

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