Transforming the communities of Essex & East London through Christ’s presence

Essex Distillery offers churches a ‘Helping Hand’ to stay safe during reopening

16th Jun 2020

The East Coast Distillery in Thorpe-le-Soken is supporting churches in Essex by ensuring they have adequate supplies of affordable hand sanitiser as they prepare to reopen for private prayer.

The farm-yard distillery was all set to produce its Essex Dry Gin when the pandemic struck. They then teamed up with the Spirit of Britain – the national group comprised of independent distilleries which have come together since the pandemic to help reverse the shortage of alcohol hand rub – and swiftly switched production to ‘Helping Hand’ 80% alcohol rub.

The Diocese of Chelmsford has bought 260 bottles of the distillery’s World Health Organisation formula hand sanitiser which is available for our parishes to buy. The supply of hand sanitiser comes as churches were permitted to reopen for individual private prayer and funerals over the weekend. The Government announced last week that churches can reopen from 13 June as part of the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Although the guidance allows for places of worship to reopen, the decision of how and when to begin the process of doing so will be taken locally. The Diocese of Chelmsford recognises that it will not be possible for all churches to reopen in the near future because of the health and safety precautions that will need to be undertaken to do so safely.

Speaking about how rural businesses have supported their local communities during the coronavirus pandemic Revd Canon Janet Nicholls, Rural Adviser and Agricultural Chaplain said:

Throughout the pandemic many small rural businesses, such as the East Coast Distillery in Thorpe-le-Soken have provided life-lines for their local communities. We are especially grateful to the distillery for stocking the diocese with bottles of ‘Helping Hand’ as our churches begin to reopen.

“I express huge thanks to our farmers who have worked throughout the crisis to ensure that food production has continued on the agricultural land of the diocese. In addition, many of our village stores and farm shops have adapted to provide deliveries of great local produce and essential supplies to those self-isolating in rural areas.”


More information 

Supply of 'Happy Hands' 80% alcohol rub

'Happy Hands' 80% alcohol rub is availble for parishes to buy from the offices of the Bishop of Colchester and the Archdeacon of Stansted at £5/ 500ml.

Contact details for the offices can be found here


The reopening of churches for individual private prayer and funerals

The Government announced on the 11 June that churches could reopen for individual private prayer from 13 June.

More information can be read here.


Revd Canon Janet Nicholls

Revd Canon Janet Nicholls is Rural Adviser and Agricultural Chaplain for Chelmsford Diocese. Janet was appointed in 2015 and supports our rural communities and churches.