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Coronavirus: Couple create ‘hugging suit’ to see grandchildren during COVID-19 lockdown | UK News

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A couple say they have come up with a unique way to safely hug their grandchildren during lockdown.

Laura and Pat Fehilly, from Hythe, Southampton, had not seen their eight-month-old granddaughter Peggy for three months because of the coronavirus restrictions.

Their daughter, Nicola, in Bristol, was finding it very difficult being away from her family for that long so as soon as the government announced people could drive to other places within England, the couple started to think about how they could see their granddaughter.



A way to hug a loved one during the coronavirus pandemic



The Fehillys were inspired by this hugging line video

Retired chemical engineer Mr Fehilly, 61, was shown a video taken in America of a plastic sheet with arms suspended on a washing line which allowed people to hug without physically touching.

“I showed him the video and he said, ‘I think I can do something better than that’,” said Mrs Fehilly, 57, an HR director for a social care company.

“He had some industrial bags lying around and I had some face visors and gloves.

“He made about three prototypes until he found one that wouldn’t let any air in, it was completely sealed. He went over it with a fine tooth comb checking for any escaping air.

“We tried them on, you lie them on the floor then get in through the bottom without touching the outside then put your hands into the gloves. Our daughter who lives with us thought it was hilarious.”

The couple’s other daughter in Bristol drove to their home and the plan was to talk to each other on the driveway, keeping two metres apart.

But, to her surprise, when she got to her parents’ house they came out in the suits.

Laura Fehilly was able to hug Peggy, eight months, through the suit
Image:
Laura Fehilly was able to hug Peggy, eight months, through the suit

Mrs Fehilly said: “She just kept saying ‘oh my God, I can’t believe you’ve done this’. She had a little cry and we hugged.

“Then we got to hug our granddaughter Peggy, she really loved it, she wasn’t scared at all.

“I couldn’t hug her for very long though because I literally couldn’t breathe. My visor steamed up so I had to hand her over to Pat and open up the air at the bottom of the suit.

“When Pat took his suit off, his hair was completely drenched – you can only hug for a few seconds before it cuts your air off.

“Our daughter later sent us a text message saying, ‘you’ve made our day’ and she was still buzzing.”

The couple decided it was such a success they would have to see their other grandchildren, so thoroughly cleaned the suits then met them on a beach.

“Our two-year-old grandson was a bit sceptical but we eventually got a hug,” Mrs Fehilly said.

“Our five-year-old granddaughter absolutely loved it. She was calling it the ‘hugging suit’ and said she wanted glitter on it, so we’re going to have to pimp the suits for next time!”

The couple warned if anybody is going to try to make a similar suit they should not use standard plastic bags as they are too thin.

They said industrial waste bags that are thick and durable, such as garden waste bags, would work, with a plastic visor and gloves.

The couple also bought powdered latex gloves from a food manufacturer to wear inside the outside gloves, and used different outside gloves each time.

“The proof for us is that everything steamed up very quickly,” said Mrs Fehilly.

“Just make sure everything you use is fit for purpose and make sure the tape is completely sealed everywhere – you can test it using a hair dryer.”

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