A HOOK-based firm has played a "key part" in the UK's fight against coronavirus, according to a trade minister.

Surface Technology International (STI) has been producing medical ventilators as part of a consortium of firms across the country tasked by the government to supply the equipment at the start of the pandemic.

And now, Ranil Jaywardena, also MP for North East Hampshire, has paid tribute to the "committed local staff".

On a tour of the facility earlier this month, he said: "All the committed local staff at STI are doing great work and [at] a phenomenal pace.

"They have played a key part in our fight against coronavirus and I was delighted to visit them at their brilliant operation in Hook.

"This is just one example of the fantastic help and support I've been pleased to see our amazing community providing to others through this crisis - and I understand STI were offered equipment and storage by neighbouring businesses, so thank you to all involved."

The company have been producing two existing devices, made by Penlon and Smith Medical, increasing their output significantly.

Simon Best, STI Managing Director, said: “We are delighted to be part of the Ventilator Challenge UK consortium.

"By stepping up to meet the manufacturing challenge of building ventilators in the volumes required to support our heroic front-line NHS teams, we are helping to treat the most severe ITU cases affected by the coronavirus.”

As previously reported, the firm have also joined up with Formula 1 teams and RAF Odiham in the production of ventilator trolleys.

Dick Elsy, who is leading VentilatorChallengeUK, said: "This consortium brings together some of the most innovative companies in the world. I am confident this consortium has the skills and tools to make a difference and save lives.”