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Employment boost for town as Avon Protection starts work on £16M UK defence contract

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Melksham-based manufacturer Avon Protection has started production on a £16million contract to produce ‘potentially life-saving masks’ for the UK armed forces.

The contract has created 22 new jobs at the company, which is based at Hampton Park West – three management and 19 shop-floor production, as well as helping to sustain their 180 employees in Melksham.

To meet the needs of full-scale production of General Service Respirators (GSR), which are issued to all UK service personnel across the Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, two new manufacturing lines have been created to assemble the respirator and filter systems.

The company is aiming to produce an initial batch of 15,380 GSRs over the next year and will also supply in-service support for the equipment.

A spokesperson for the company said, “Avon Protection is pleased to announce that the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) GSR is now in production and work has begun to deliver the first order.

“Avon Protection was awarded the five-year contract to resupply and in-service support for the GSR in February 2018. After a year of development, samples of the GSR were provided to the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) for laboratory testing and user evaluation. These tests were successfully passed and the GSR was accepted into service in September.

Avon Protection received the first order for respirators and spares at the beginning of October. 

Paul McDonald, chief executive officer for Avon Protection said, “We are delighted to support the UK MOD and service personnel with the GSR respirator and we look forward to continuing a long-term relationship with this strategically important customer. 

“This contract demonstrates the UK MOD’s continued confidence and reliance on Avon Protection to supply product of the highest quality and performance to protect its troops.”

Defence minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said, “Last year the MOD spent over £5.2 billion with UK industry in the South West. This multi-million-pound contract will boost this contribution even further and support over 200 jobs in Melksham.

“These lightweight respirators protect our service personnel while ensuring they can communicate effectively on the battlefield.”

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