THE Junction Tap in Woking has reached the national finals of the Great British Pub Awards – with its general manager in line to be dubbed a hero for making personal protective equipment for NHS staff.

With this year’s awards putting the emphasis on selflessness and community spirit, the pub has been nominated in the Front-Line Support category.

It faces opposition from establishments as far apart as Cornwall and Manchester on a shortlist of six.

During lockdown, general manager Cee-Jay Williams joined the fight against the coronavirus by using a 3D printer to make PPE parts.

“When lockdown began, I felt a bit directionless,” he said. “We are all so used to being at the centre of our communities, to have that suddenly taken away leaves a big hole.”

Keen to be involved, Cee-Jay found a story on Facebook of a group in Italy using 3D printers to adapt diving masks into protective gear.

Inspired by their initiative, and with some bonus money that he had saved, Cee-Jay teamed up with a friend in Kent, Tim Charlesworth. They each bought printers and joined a Facebook 3D printer community, which organises regional collection and distribution.

“We researched what was possible to print and what was needed by the NHS,” Cee-Jay said. “When I heard that there was a deficit of 80,000 clips that were used to attach the protective plastic visors for doctors and nurses working closely with coronavirus patients, I knew I wanted to help.”

Cee-Jay helped to raise £1,237 to fund the printing of more than 4,000 units of PPE, including face shields, nose clips and ear savers.

“I set up a GoFundMe page with a target of £200, and I also made some NHS keyrings to sell to help bolster the fundraising, which helped us to far surpass our target,” he said.

He managed to speed up the printing process and was soon printing all day and night. He then expanded again by printing the face shields, ear savers and nose clips needed for the masks, depending on what was most in demand.

He also purchased his own sterilising kits so he could send everything directly to the hospitals, sterilised and individually sealed in Ziploc bags.

The winner in each of the 15 categories will be offered the opportunity to submit an application for up to £10,000 each to fund a business improvement or upgrade, or to put towards a community project.

Additionally, Coca-Cola, one of the awards’ sponsors, will fund a further £1,000 donation to a local charity or good cause supported by each of the winning pubs.

The winners will be announced via a livestream on 24 September.