Ged Mason OBE, CEO of Salford-headquartered Morson Group, has received the High Sheriff Special Recognition Award for facilitating the provision of specially-adapted PPE for practitioners working with children and young people who have learning disabilities.
He was nominated for the accolade by Dominic Tinner, Head of Fundraising at Seashell Trust in Cheadle Hulme, who praised Ged for helping to supply the innovative facemasks, complete with a Perspex mouthpiece, to facilitate the charity’s staff and students who rely on lip reading to communicate effectively.
Mason and the wider Morson Group have supported Seashell Trust for more than 11 years. Sitting on the board of trustees, Ged declared the organisation Morson’s charity of the year in 2016. Through ongoing fundraising, the Morson Group has donated more than £0.5million to the charity.
The Morson Group partners with the Morson Maker Space, a specialist manufacturing facility at the University of Salford which has used 3D printing to produce thousands of medical visors for the city’s frontline staff fighting COVID-19. Upon hearing that Seashell Trust’s students were struggling to communicate with their tutors and carers, who had been asked to adopt restrictive face masks and PPE to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, Ged introduced a Speech and Language Therapist from the charity to the Morson Maker Space team to invent a prototype mask that enabled lip reading and better visual cues.
Since then, the prototypes have been designed and manufactured by the University of Salford and are in use at the charity which provides education and care for children and young people with learning disabilities between the ages of three and 25.
Tinner said: “COVID-19 has proved a very traumatic time for our students. They have complex needs, and any disruption to their routine can be unsettling. To suddenly see their teachers and carers in PPE, and to not be able to pick up on their visual cues when trying to communicate, was a huge blow – it can make both the students and staff, some of whom are also deaf, feel very isolated.
“Ged provided a breakthrough for us with this challenge. We searched online, all around the world for masks that would enable our team to achieve a sense of normality during this unusual period, but no-one was producing them. When we discovered Ged had been working with the University of Salford who was producing the PPE visors, and when he heard of our situation, the solution became clear very quickly. It was like the stars aligned and was a truly collaborative effort.
“While Ged has proven to be a lifeline to us during the pandemic, it must be said that he is a truly remarkable person all year round and over the years has given Seashell Trust opportunities we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to achieve. He even gave one of our young students a full-time job, which provided so much inspiration for our other residents.
“Ged doesn’t just support us financially through donations; he offers advice, guidance and sometimes will just sit and listen to us. He is a true friend to our organisation and that’s why we didn’t think twice about nominating him for this special award.”
This is the first year the High Sheriff of Greater Manchester has introduced a Special Recognition awards programme, with Eamonn O’Neill being selected by the Queen to take the position in April this year.
Ged said: “This was quite a surprise for me – it was completely unexpected, and I am very humbled that of all Seashell Trust’s donors, they have chosen to put me forward.
“Seashell Trust holds a special place in my heart and over the many years of working together, it has been inspiring to see their young people develop and learn how to communicate despite their hearing challenges and disabilities. The wider Morson Group and I do what we can for Seashell Trust because we think they are the special ones; it is them that deserves the recognition.
“I’d like to congratulate the other recipients of the High Sheriff Special Recognition Award and also thank the High Sheriff himself for introducing this scheme, which highlights the important work taking place across our region.”
Rachel Norton, Maker Space Project Manager at the University of Salford, said: “The Morson Maker Space team have worked closely with the Morson Group throughout the COVID-19 crisis. We’re proud to have been able to support many frontline workers across the North West including the critical work for Seashell Trust. Our work together has been an excellent example of the strength of our partnership and how we’ve come together at a time of great need. We’d like to congratulate Ged Mason on his High Sheriff Special Recognition Award; it’s very well deserved.”