A business owner has been honoured by the Queen after producing over one million bottles of hand sanitiser since the first lockdown.
Rhys Mallows, a 23-year-old managing director of Mallows Bottling, has received a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to the NHS and key workers.
The bottling factory, which is based in Cowbridge, was repurposed during the first lockdown after a Europe-wide shortage of ethanol became apparent.
After striking a deal with a Scottish distiller to supply the spirit base, Rhys, as well as the company’s 29 employees pulled together to deliver 18-hour manufacturing shifts for 12 weeks.
Rhys and Andrew Mallows, who is the fellow company director and his Father, have since produced 1.3 million bottles of 100ml hand sanitisers and 124,000 litres in large containers.
Rhys said: “When the pandemic broke, and supply chains struggled, we saw the need for hand sanitiser in our local community. Whether local NHS trusts, care homes, or schools, so many places struggled to get hold of sanitiser.”
“This was a real team effort. It’s a fantastic feeling to be recognised in this way, but I feel strongly that this is an award for everybody that pulled together to ensure we could get the hand sanitiser to the places that needed it the most.”
“Coming into work in the early days of the pandemic, when we still didn’t have much information must have felt scary, but our team worked so hard and showed such commitment to getting as much sanitiser as we could physically make out of the door every day.”
Plans to expand the business by opening a new purpose-built distillery in Rhondda Cynon Taf are also under-way, with Rhys adding: “Opening our new distillery is the culmination of a lifelong dream for us. We have developed a range of innovative artisan spirits, which we will be exporting to many territories globally. We have already secured contracts to supply retailers in the USA, France, Australia and Poland, and we plan to expand the team to around 60 people this year.
“Switching our production to hand sanitiser was a big risk for us as a business on many levels, but I’m happy we took that decision so early on and were able to help as much as we did.”