Sew long scrub-making… now for new buzz

Jade Wells, eight, helps complete the last piece of sewing for Wellesbourne Scrubbers.

STAY calm and keep sewing has been the mantra for an army of Warwickshire volunteers throughout the coronavirus crisis.

But now demand for their skills has fallen, the stitchers have scaled down their operations and are turning their talents to other causes.

Shortly after its formation in early April, Warwickshire Scrubbers fast became a central hub for 1,500 home sewers keen to make surgical uniforms – known as scrubs – laundry bags, caps and headbands used to secure masks.

Jade models last set of scrubs

Many care workers and NHS staff sent requests to the Scrubbers as they found themselves in desperate need of the vital kit to do their jobs.

Co-founders Abigail Sheridan de Graaff, a professional quilt-maker who lives in Shipston-on-Stour, and Hatton-based Rachel Booth, who runs sustainable IT company Carbon 3 with her husband, announced the change of direction and name for the group last week.

Sharing the news on Facebook to the group now named the Warwick- shire Bees, Rachel said: “We have moved on and have a new purpose! Well it’s just the same really: sewing for good causes. Everyone is welcome to join us, and we will share news of causes to sew for – whether that’s masks, scrubs, shopping bags for FareShare food distribution and so on.”

The group has been celebrating its achievements, with 15,021 hand- made items completed during the crisis, including 3,730 scrubs, 7,456 laundry bags, 3,568 headbands and 267 ear-savers.

Reflecting on the group’s achieve- ments, Abigail said: “It is 12 weeks since we set up and what a lot we have all achieved. In one way it seems a lifetime ago but in another I can still remember the non-stop 16-hour days that were required for the first few weeks.”

She added: “I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank everyone who has been involved in this group, however they have contributed.

“I know I am not alone in saying that in the early days of lockdown it was a lifeline for people and the sense of purpose and achievement cannot be underestimated.”

Meanwhile, other local sewing groups have been tallying their suc- cesses as they also enter a period of calm following the storm of the coronavirus peak.

Rebecca Mawle, of Shipston Home Nursing, praised the work of the Ettington Stichers, who have helped raise more than £2,000 for the charity and for local hospices and Air Ambulance by making and selling 500 face coverings.

Co-ordinator Lindsey Yarrow said: “It has been quite a journey in challenging times but enormous fun, all in good spirit, supporting the community and the Stitchers contributing many hours of sewing.”

Wellesbourne Scrubbers also marked the end of their vigorous production period by sharing a video online of eight-year-old Jade Wells helping to finish off the group’s last set of scrubs.

Organiser Sharon Underhill said: “After 78 days of production we have now closed our doors, having raised £7,000, produced 776 scrubs and more than 2,500 bags, headbands and hats for our health workers.”