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European Tour golfer Steven Tiley is now making hand sanitiser that is being produced for the NHS

Golf professional Steven Tiley has swapped the fairways for the factory - helping to produce thousands of bottles of hand sanitiser destined for the NHS.

The 37-year-old from Herne Bay should have enjoyed a trip to Kenya as part of the European Tour in March but that was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Herne Bay golfer Steven Tiley working at his father's lab making hand sanitiser (34163536)
Herne Bay golfer Steven Tiley working at his father's lab making hand sanitiser (34163536)

Tiley, who is also on the Challenge Tour, was facing up to several months without income but when his entrepreneurial father turned his Hersden-based Nutritional Supplement production line into one that could make hand sanitiser, there was an opportunity to put his time to good use.

On Tuesday, the Nutracrest business received its BS EN1500 accreditation for its hand sanitisers from an accredited independent microbiology laboratory – the benchmark standard that confirms the product quality. Nutracrest are currently churning out 5,000 bottles a day of the much-needed product, with orders from health trusts, key worker employers and the care home sector across the country.

It's been quite a change, and quite a challenge, for a man who is used to spending much of his time outdoors swinging his clubs.

Teeing off at Sandwich Princes Golf Club for Open Final Qualifying in 2018 Picture: Paul Amos
Teeing off at Sandwich Princes Golf Club for Open Final Qualifying in 2018 Picture: Paul Amos

"It is a real change in environment," said the father-of-two.

"We can only work two people at a time and we do 500 bottles and then swap and help make up the solution, there is always something to do. You are not constantly on the machine for seven hours but I do sometimes look outside when it's nice weather and think about playing golf.

"I am now doing seven hour shifts, four times a week, and also home-schooling the kids.

"There aren't many skills I can use from playing golf but work colleagues have noted how driven I am. When you play sport you are constantly searching for how to do it better. I just tend to try and do above and beyond all the time.

"Athletes self motivate very well, particularly when you play a sport on your own, you set your own goals. Every day I am thinking 'how am I going to get better at golf' and I have used that in the business, thinking 'how can I make this machine work better?'

European Tour golfer Steven Tiley hard at work making hand sanitiser
European Tour golfer Steven Tiley hard at work making hand sanitiser

"At first, I didn't think I would be cut out for it, you have to be very technical minded and it was so out of my comfort zone, but I am used to it now and producing 2,500 bottles on my shift. I am getting paid so that is good because there are no tournaments and I can't play for any money at the moment."

Because of the virus, only two people can work at any time, but the company are still open for more orders and they have already supplied Kent schools along with NHS trusts.

They are sending 35,000 bottles to be distributed to home nursing staff all over the country and another 10,000 to a Sussex NHS trust.

Any problems with their machine though, does present issues. His father John is a scientist and an engineer but is currently locked in isolation with his wife, Steven's step-mum, as she has previously had a kidney transplant and is particularly vulnerable.

Steven Tiley at Nutracrest where he is helping produce thousands of bottles of hand sanitiser destined for the NHS
Steven Tiley at Nutracrest where he is helping produce thousands of bottles of hand sanitiser destined for the NHS

It means issues have to be fixed remotely.

Steven said: "We are having to do things through FaceTime and when something comes up that I can't fix, because I am a professional golfer, he is getting frustrated down the phone because he could do it in five minutes. He is like 'I can't believe you can't fix it' and I reply, 'well you try standing on the tee at the British Open, you can't do that!'

Tiley, who practices at Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club, has been on the European Tour since last qualifying in 2017 - he had previously done so in 2011 - while he has been on the Challenge Tour now for 10 years. Prior to the coronavirus strike he was enjoying some of his best results.

In July 2019 he won the Vaudreuil Golf Challenge and he has also recently been a winner at the British Par-3 Championship, which landed him a cheque for 50,000 euros.

Steven Tiley during Open qualifying at Royal Cinque Ports Picture: Gary Browne
Steven Tiley during Open qualifying at Royal Cinque Ports Picture: Gary Browne

"The last couple of years have been really good until this!" he said.

With golf clubs closed he admits even managing to practice isn't ideal.

He said: "I built a net in my garden and was hitting balls but the novelty wore off a bit. The neighbours out in their garden could hear me and I don't think they were particularly pleased!"

So for now, he is busy working and has encouraged any schools or care homes that are in need of hand sanitiser to get in touch with his dad at john.tiley@nutracrest.com. Steve himself produces a weekly newsletter for those interested in following his golf progress. Email steventiley@gmail.com to be added to the list.

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