From hand sanitiser to virtual parties - Gin firm reflects on 2020

Patrick and Sarah Saunders of Black Shuck Picture: BLACK SHUCK

Patrick and Sarah Saunders of Black Shuck Picture: BLACK SHUCK - Credit: Archant

From making hand sanitiser, having an advert on Sky and hosting a virtual Christmas party for key workers, the last 15 months have been a whirlwind for the Black Shuck gin firm.

The Fakenham-based distillery decided to make the sanitiser last February after they were made aware of a possible shortage of PPE for hospitality and retail sectors, as stock was sent to front line workers.

Sarah Saunders, who owns Black Shuck along with her husband Patrick, said a month later they were providing stock across the region.

A bottle of hand sanitiser and hand rub

The Fakenham based distillery decided to make the sanitiser last February. - Credit: Sarah Saunders

“By March 23 things had spiralled because hospitality was closed but we were getting calls from emergency services, the NHS, care homes, charities, air ambulance, even London based ambulances. 

“The phone was ringing off the hook and we were busier than ever.”


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At the beginning of April, they were supplying Norfolk County Council who was supplying care homes across the region.

Black Shuck donated alcohol-based hand sanitiser to EAAA staff as well as other key workers during t

Black Shuck donated alcohol-based hand sanitiser to EAAA staff as well as other key workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: East Anglian Air Ambulance - Credit: Archant

One of the homes 'tugged on their heartstrings.' 

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After receiving a call from Norfolk Vision who said they had an emergency PPE pack that included two of their sanitisers.

They said they were in a position where they had active covid cases at their home where they look after 40 adults with complex sight needs.

Patrick and Sarah Saunders of Black Shuck Gin with their Inspiration Award certificate. Picture: Eas

Patrick and Sarah Saunders of Black Shuck Gin with their Inspiration Award certificate. Picture: East Anglian Air Ambulance - Credit: Archant

“It was anxious enough but all that and having no sight, it must be terrifying,” she said.

“When she explained to us by 11 am the next day we were delivering 48 bottles of hand sanitiser and refill tubs.

“It struck us then, we were providing not only for people guarding against the virus, it was benefiting mental wellbeing.”

Couple standing behind a gin with gins and tonics on display

Patrick and Sarah Saunders of Black Shuck hosting their virtual event from their bar at home. - Credit: Sarah Saunders

They kept the relationship going, and last December they arranged a virtual Christmas party for the 103 staff and volunteers there. Sending out a box of gins and treats and hosting the party over Zoom. They also got a message of thanks from Stephen Fry for the staff.

In June they were awarded the Most Inspirational Business in EAAA’s Inspiration Awards and became a Chamber of Commerce UK Business Hero in November.

“At the time we were so busy it was a case of getting the job done," she said.

"We reflected in the new year about how fortunate we had been.

“To be in a position to help, it was really special. We never expected to be in a position to have such an emotional impact on people.”

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