As you may remember, earlier this year we brought you the news that Charlie Smith, a member of our Academy’s Under-12 side, was playing his part in helping NHS and care workers during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Charlie’s mother, Kathryn, a self-employed interior designer and maker of soft furnishings, along with the help of Charlie and an army of volunteers, had been making scrubs and wash bags for key workers.
Having initially been asked by a friend who works for the NHS to make wash bags for them, demand for the items grew so much that Kathryn enlisted the help of over 500 volunteers to help to sew items together, via the Facebook group ‘Your Sewing Machine Needs You’ and word of mouth.
After dedicating more than six months towards helping the NHS and key workers, Kathryn has called time on making the items as she returns to focusing on her own business, and we’re very proud to say that Jake Beesley, Harrison Hopper and Alex Newby, as well as Siobhan McElhinney, Dale’s Community Trust Assistant Manager, joined Kathryn and Charlie at the Royal Oldham Hospital last week to make the final drop-off – the rainbow theatre gowns for children.
Kathryn explains more: “We were making plain scrubs from fabric that I was buying with the money we raised through our JustGiving Page, then following the publicity we started getting, we got asked to make some scrubs to go to Wales.
“Whilst doing that, the group out in Wales got donated fabric by Chris Evans, the BBC Radio 2 presenter and celebrity. During the pandemic, Chris and his son Noah have donated thousands and thousands of pounds worth of scrub fabric that they had printed with rainbows on. We were then sent some of that, which we used to make the rainbow scrubs for the Royal Oldham Hospital. They also went to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
“After delivering rainbow scrubs to the children’s department at Royal Oldham Hospital in August, they asked us if we would be able to make any theatre gowns for the children, so with some of that fabric we had left, we made the gowns. They were made during August and September and that`s what we delivered last week.”
Kathryn has thanked the army of volunteers, who she says have made thousands of items.
“A lot of the people who have been part of the group are older people who have been isolating, so for them, it became a bit of a lifeline for them. They couldn’t see their families or friends, so it became a routine for them. I still have people now who don’t want to stop because it has become part of their life.
“We’ve been sewing and knitting, making scrubs, wash bags, scrub hats and masks, and lot of different knitted items, including dolls and hearts that you could send to people who were in hospital or homes. We’ve made nearly 1000 sets of scrubs, nearly 2500 wash bags and countless more other items.”
Siobhan McElhinney and Tony Ellis [Dale Academy Manager] helped distribute the items during the lockdown period and Kathryn also thanked the Club, the Dale in the Community Trust and the Academy for their Assistance.
“Charlie absolutely loves playing for Rochdale. The way the Club helped by putting the information on their website and social media really helped with the fundraising – we raised over £9,000 for materials. Siobhan and Tony have been great at going out and about delivering items for us. Nothing was ever too much of an ask.”