More used to making parts for military fast jets, staff at The Oxley Group worked quickly to make emergency life-saving face masks during the Covid-19 pandemic.

With little notice, they pulled out all the stops after the NHS made an urgent plea for visors to help front-line workers putting themselves at risk of coronavirus.

It was this which appealed to lead judge Phillip Ward of The Cumberland, which sponsored the award. Mr Ward was assisted by Emily Parsons of Newsquest Cumbria, as he looked for a firm which was involved in its community during the coronavirus pandemic. He described the category as “pure joy”.

All of Oxley’s 150 staff worked new shift patterns making masks for care homes, hospices, GP and dental surgeries in towns and villages across its community.

Jayne Moorby, marketing manager at Ulverston-based Oxley, said: “It was a real team effort.

“We set up a special unit to work on it the very day of the request. We are an agile firm and can respond very quickly to requests.

“When Freddy Oxley founded his family firm in 1942, he worked on the principles he based it on – his values of re-investment, innovation and self-sufficiency which all still hold today.

“This means we can respond to challenges like this quickly. For two days after the request we worked solidly, talking to the NHS in what turned out to be an emerging situation where the supply of perspex for the visors was snapped up.

“We went all over Europe to get some then created prototypes before the designs were signed off for production on a bespoke line in our factory. With lockdown this had to be socially distanced.”

More used to working in the field of global defence and aerospace, staff produced thousands of visors for 80 locations across the community.

Oxley deployed its site services team to work on the logistics of delivering the visors quickly for people who needed them there and then. “It was an incredible operation and we are so proud of all our staff for being able to adapt. The challenge was to work on what was a simple design when they were used to producing components for military fast jets,” said Jayne.

It is these attributes which enabled Oxley to pick up the top award in this category, which looked particularly at businesses working through coronavirus to help the community.

Recognising the demand for visors in care homes in its community, staff visited homes in its area offering the visors.

Mr Ward said the finalists encapsulated Cumbria and its community spirit. Runners up were Kendal Hostel and Story Contracting, which operates across the county.

Commending the Oxley Group, he said: “The manufacturer also showed tremendous links to the community in which it is based.”