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RYA Northern Ireland club members swap scrubbing boats to scrubbing for the NHS

by Gayle Logan 30 Apr 15:24 BST
RYA Northern Ireland affiliated Club members get sewing for the NHS © RYA NI

Around the shores of Strangford Lough, two long-time friends, Thelma and Louise, set up the North Down & Ards Scrubs for NHS group. The group was set up to help support NHS workers such as Thelma's son who is a key worker.

The group, which was set up only three weeks ago and now has over 30 teams (averaging 10 members per team) including stitchers, cutters, drivers and a few independent sewers, has made over 500 scrub sets to date. A huge achievement in such a short period.

They have sourced, cut and sewn through 600m of fabric, countless numbers of bed linen and sets and have just ordered a further 600m to send out to the many volunteers involved.

The volunteers include a team made up of club members from around Strangford Lough including Quoile YC and Killyleagh YC. The team led by Liz Baker, RYANI Development Committee member and Quoile Yacht club member, is working alongside 12 others from Quoile and Killyleagh. Other club members include - Jill Heron; Julie Chambers; Bridie McKeating; Paddy Mullan; Bridie Warren; Heather Crawford; Sheenagh Crawford; Liz McCormick; Dawn Crosby; Helen Bready; Allison Crichton and Viv White - even getting their husbands involved, who are gaining new skills by getting roped into trace and cut patterns for the scrubs.

Liz Baker explains: "I heard about the group and thought that it was the right thing to do to help where I could, I can sew and was delighted to be able to support this group. Jill phoned me a few days later and asked if our local town support group - Killyleagh Community Association Covid-19 Volunteer group could help. Jill put out the call for those with sewing skills and donations of good quality bed linen.

"This was all done with strict social distancing in mind, a large plastic box was left at the bottom of Jill's drive into which donations were made. Very soon we had lots of donations and offers of help.

She continues: "I think it is a very worthy cause, it has not been easy to get materials such as fabric, thread and elastic but with the promotion of this group the community have come together by donating much needed materials. Thanks to many kind donations including The Skip in Newtownards who donated fabric, thread and tape - we are truly thankful even adding our own little touch by dying the some of the donated fabric."

Julie Chambers (KYC) and also a nurse adds: "what a week we have had, great fun, camaraderie, virtual sewing video chats and even getting to see a few faces on delivery - all with social distancing in place!

Everyone jumped on board and felt they were contributing to our NHS and even more so as some of us are still working and have a lot of young family members on the front line. We will certainly be out Thursday evening clapping."

The group are sewing scrubs for the Ulster Hospital, Covid testing centres, the Maternity unit at the Ulster, the Mater and Ards and North Down community nursing.

Lisa McCaffrey (RYANI Active Clubs Coordinator) explains: "This is a great example of how our sailing community is working together and it's fantastic to see all the volunteers putting their expertise and skills to help support our key workers.

If you would like to know more about this fantastic group follow them on Facebook - North Down & Ards scrubs for NHS."

Donations for the work they are doing can be made through:

If you or your club is doing something similar please let us know as we are keen on promoting all the inspiring work our sailing community are doing over this time.

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