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Dad makes it curtains for killer hospital bug

PUBLISHED: 16:42 22 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:34 25 August 2010

A BUSINESSMAN who caught MRSA while in hospital has won a prestigious award for inventing a device which prevents the infection.

A BUSINESSMAN who caught MRSA while in hospital has won a prestigious award for inventing a device which prevents the infection.

Father-of-five Peter Gardner, 61, of Jackass Lane, Keston, gained the Queen's Award for his life-saving idea of a disposable cubicle curtain which has helped the superbug rate to plummet in dozens of hospitals.

Mr Gardener caught MRSA while in Guy's and St Thomas' hospital in London for kidney stones treatment in 2004. He set up his business, Disposable Cubicle Curtains, within the same year.

He said: "Luckily I survived but others don't. I said to the doctors: 'This is wrong. I shouldn't be here, you're meant to be curing me.' Then I set about fixing it. Guy's and St Thomas' let me start developing it there."

He bought a factory in China in 2006 and now supplies, among others, Queen Mary's Hospital, in Sidcup, and Dartford's Livingstone Hospital. This year his company hit the £100million turnover mark.

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, which had the worst outbreak of the superbug C-Diff in which 90 people died between 2002 and 2006, was one of the first to start using the curtains. It now claims to have one of the lowest infection rates in the country.

Mr Gardner said: "It's amazing really. Cynics say we're making money out of illness but if it saves lives it has to be a good thing."

The curtains, nearly 10 times cheaper than normal hospital ones, are made of a special material that kills MRSA, as well as being fireproof and waterproof.

Mr Gardner was previously the managing director of two other companies and chairman of trade associations, but views his latest award as the pinnacle of his business career. He said: "This is the best thing I have ever done. I've been working all my life to prove I can develop things and make things work. But nothing is more satisfying than winning this award. I'm absolutely made up as they say. It was something I really really wanted. I was a secondary modern lad who left school with no qualifications. If I can do it, anybody can. It's not about qualification, it's about dedication."

Mr Gardner will be invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace.

katherine.nelson@archant.co.uk

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