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For the Love of Scrubs

by Linda Philo

Sandra Maycock assembling scrubs

Article by Jan Rowland / Photography by Geoff Brown

TV, during lockdown, has featured endless tales of how communities and individuals have pulled together to ease the unexpected difficulties Covid-19 has presented us with. One of these features showed Sandra Maycock from Fritchley telling us about Derbyshire Scrubs: an organisation set up in less than 10 weeks to provide scrubs for whoever needs them in the central Derbyshire area.

materials laid out on a table

On a Thursday morning in mid May I popped into the Fritchley Congregational Chapel to meet Sandra and her friend Sue to see what Derbyshire Scrubs is all about. I was met with rolls of brightly coloured material and tables full of pattern pieces in numerous piles waiting to be matched up and sorted into packs. These would then be sent out to a hundred plus home sewers to be skilfully transformed into scrubs for medical, nursing and care home staff. They were a pleasant change from the blue or green scrubs we usually see and featured all the colours of the rainbow we currently acknowledge as a sign of gratitude to the NHS.

scrubs patterns

Sandra originally became involved through the original organisation called For the Love of Scrubs which first rallied those with sewing skills to provide kit for our overstretched NHS, but shortly afterwards she was asked to take on an organisational role, along with about 10 others, with the newly named Derbyshire Scrubs.

It didn’t just involve recruiting sewers either: there was material to source and it couldn’t just be any old material; it had to weigh between 120 and 150 grams/square metre, had to be 65% polyester 30% cotton and had to be washable at 60 degrees Centigrade. Then a pattern had to be sourced and David Nieper of Alfreton provided this as well as cutting out the first 174 metres of fabric. Then it was time to start cutting out by hand. Tracey, another member of the group and an ex textile employee cut patterns out and it wasn’t long before the group found a Derby couple with their own (currently closed) clothing factory offered to cut the material on an industrial scale.

The cut out pieces then find their way to Fritchley and other hubs via a posse of volunteer drivers (although I suspect Sandra herself has done quite a lot of ferrying to and fro), where the sorting into kits takes place. Added to the pattern pieces are tapes, bindings and labels to be added to the completed scrubs. So far Sandra estimates that around 10 000 metres of material has been and is still being turned into vital clothing for hospital staff.

Sandra assembling scrubs at Fritchley Village Hall

Funding for the whole exercise has come from many sources. Sandra was pleased to receive funding from friends and people in our locality and through Rotary Amber Valley, as well as Trevor Ainsworth of Derbyshire County Council.

People in the group also set up Just Giving pages which all in all raised in the region of £9000. A further £2500 worth of fabric has been donated through Chris Evans and his family’s fundraising efforts through Virgin Radio.

I think if you’d suggested to Sandra 10 weeks ago that she’d be organising the distribution of these sorts of funds and organising the number of individuals that she has, she’d probably have had a good laugh but she admits that it’s been “a great learning curve and I’ve met lots of lovely people on the way” and that the skill mix of volunteers is amazing, even down to a lady with stock control experience creating spreadsheets to show exactly where scrubs are distributed. Maybe a few CEOs might like to copy her style!

thank you card

Sandra has been thrilled to receive a thank you card on behalf of the group from William Tucker, Lord Lieutentant of Derbyshire, which reads:

Dear Sandra

Words cannot adquately express the gratitute I feel when I think about the incredible support and service you have given throughout the COVID-19 CRISIS.

I want to thank you wholeheartedly for all you have contributed.

Please pass my sincere thanks to all those involved with the Derby and Burton 'For the Love of Scrubs' Facebook group.

William Tucker

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