A SELFLESS teenager is single-handedly crafting thousands of ear guards to help NHS staff and care workers cope with wearing protective masks for hours on end.

Using his own 3D printer, Ronnie Wilson, 15, has already created around 2,400 of the guards, which have been shipped off as far as a paediatric unit in Birmingham and a hospital in Wales.

Hundreds have been sent to Colchester paramedics, Colchester Hospital, cancer care nurses, care homes and St Helena Hospice.

His mum Helen said: “He has made just over 2,400 and he’s got requests for 3,300.

“It has slowed down a bit since the beginning in April, when it was just absolute chaos.

“I’m like his personal assistant now, I’ll package them up and take them to the post office – they love me turning up with ten or 12 packages to send.”

The simple guards help to alleviate the strain of wearing protective masks for hours on end, preventing blisters and reducing discomfort.

The youngster is one of several across the UK to have taken inspiration from the story of Canadian teen Quinn Callander, whose mission to craft the ear guards has been shared across the world.

“Someone tagged me in a post about this boy in Canada, who had made 1,200 ear guards,” said Helen.

“I showed Ron the article and he went on Thingiverse (a website dedicated to the sharing of user-created digital design files), found the STL file format and ran with it.

“We posted it on Facebook and had it on a local page and it just took off.

The Colne Community School pupil, who lives in Brightlingsea with his parents and sister, works from morning until night on the guards.

His bedroom has been transformed into a mini factory, pumping out seven of the guards every hour and 55 minutes.

“His sister won’t let him have the machines going at night,” laughs Helen.

“It does make a bit of a whirring noise.

“About three years ago we bought him a 3D printer and he built it himself, he already had a lot of filament, which is the material which goes in.

“With a bit of help from the bank of mum and dad, he managed to buy himself a second 3D printer.”

She added: “We are so proud of him, especially in the climate we are in, it is easy to withdraw into yourself and not do anything – to just play Xbox and take it easy.

“It has given him a purpose, he just has to get up in the morning and turn the printers on.

“He has to do three hours of school work a day, but aside from that it is his focus.”

Because of his astonishing efforts, Ronnie is to receive a Jack Petchey Community Award.

The scheme was set up to recognise young people from Essex and London who are helping their community during the coronavirus pandemic.

Winners are awarded £50 as a prize, but Ronnie’s cash won’t last long.

“I am honoured to be given this award, it’s great to be able to help people during this time of need,” he said.

“I will be using the money to purchase more materials so I am able to keep printing.”

Helen added: “He’s modest and says he’s only clicking a button, but it’s getting it set up and making sure it is level that takes work.

“He is a hard worker.”

To nominate a youngster for an award, visit jackpetcheyfoundation.org.uk/opportunities/jack-petcheys-community-nominations/ and fill out the form.

A spokesman said: “We want to highlight as many of the entries we can, and will choose multiple winners each week to receive £50 prize for themselves or their favourite charity.

“A young person can be nominated for any actions they are doing to help vulnerable family members, their area, school or youth group.”

To request some of Ronnie’s ear guards, email frogrockron3dprinting@gmail.com.