Hand sanitiser made by North Yorkshire gin distilleries has been helping keep key workers safe during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Three distilleries across the county – Spirit of Masham and Harrogate Tipple as well as Masons Gin in Bedale – have turned to production of sanitiser to support not only North Yorkshire County Council, but also health services and other organisations.

County Council Leader Cllr Carl Les said: “This is another great example of the outpouring of community togetherness and public spirit that we’re seeing across North Yorkshire. We are seeing businesses supporting communities, just as communities support their businesses. I want to thank these distilleries and the many other businesses that have stepped up in these unprecedented times to support our efforts and those or our public sector and volunteer partners.”

Spirit of Masham, which is part of Corks and Cases and is owned by Derek and Carol Harle, has supplied hospitals, GP surgeries, nursing homes and hauliers, as well as the County Council with hand sanitiser.

“We were the first distillery in England to make an application to HMRC to produce hand sanitiser,” said Derek. “It was the instant thing we thought of doing. We thought we needed to do this to get it out to people, because there were shortages.”

The distillery is using the World Health Organisation formula, with added softener, but Derek says the biggest problem is sourcing bottles and the dispensers to go on top of them.

Derek said: “The main thing was to get this out and to be able to do it at a low enough price to make it viable. It has been a very busy period, which we anticipated. While everyone has been locked down at home during the good weather, I’ve been locked in a distillery.”

Steve and Sally Green, co-founders of Harrogate Tipple, in Ripley, were able to go into production of 80 per cent alcohol sanitiser after the World Health Organisation published its formula and the Government removed duty on the alcohol, only a day after Steve and Sally raised the issue with their MP, Andrew Jones.

Steve said: “We realised we could do this and keep our business open, because 90 per cent of our sales were lost overnight. We could go back to the doctors and hospitals and councils that had asked about this to say that we could do it at cost price, as well as selling it online to individuals.

“We are continuing to make it. It has been unbelievable. We can’t make enough.”

As well as supplying 500 bottles to the County Council, Harrogate Tipple has supplied the Royal Mail, the Nightingale Hospital in Harrogate, GPs and other health services.

The business is also still making gin and has set up a drive-in market within the distillery yard with other village businesses, including a baker and cheese seller, enabling people from Ripley and surrounding villages to buy goods while observing distancing guidelines and not leaving their car.