Ventilators and a disinfecting robot are being designed by a Cumbrian firm to help the NHS through the coronavirus crisis.

Forth Engineering has previously worked on innovative projects for the nuclear, oil and gas and renewables sectors.

Now Forth managing director Mark Telford is answering an SOS call to produce ventilators for the NHS and is designing remotely operated robots to help in the fight against coronavirus.

“We have been approached by those who know us for our work in the nuclear sector to see if we can manufacture ventilators," said Mark.

“We are working now with Sellafield engineers to build a prototype ventilator and hope to have one on the table in the next couple of days.

“Then it’s how we can make 10, 100, 1000, as many as are needed to help in the fight against coronavirus.

“We will form two teams - one team to develop and fine tune the prototype, another team to set up the manufacture facility.

“We have got the people, the skills, the stock, the equipment, the material, and also the supply chain, so we hope to be in production within a week."

Forth, which employs 54 people and has bases at Maryport, Barrow and Cleator Moor, will be reopening a production line at Cleator Moor which it had closed earlier in the week due to projects being put on pause because of coronavirus.

The company is also developing a disinfecting robot which Mark hopes to have mobilised next week.

The robot will be able to be worked remotely, controlled from a safe distance, to help the NHS and other organisations keep areas clean during the coronavirus outbreak.

“"So we are now starting to design and develop a tracked robot vehicle fitted with a disinfectant vapour cannon, and cameras, and lights and whatever is needed, which can sterilise ambulances, schools, hospitals, shops and supermarkets, wherever it’s required," said Mark.

“It will fire high pressure vapour which will settle in every part of a designated area, it could be the back of an ambulance, supermarkets, food shops, schools which are teaching children of essential workers, wherever it is needed.

“We are starting work on the robot now, and I would hope we will have it mobilised next week. That’s how quickly we always work, it’s just that the sectors which need our help are different right now and this is a national emergency.”

Forth has also kept its trade counter open at Maryport to help service those on the front line, particularly in the food sourcing and distribution industry.

Forth’s plant and equipment supplies will help keep those businesses moving in their time of need.

Mark said: “We want to support those on the front line, such as across agriculture, fisheries, milk production, to make sure we can help them keep delivering food and supplies to the nation.”