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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Band of stitchers unveil lasting tribute to NI Scrubs heroes

Mayor Cllr William McCaughey along with Health Minister Robin Swann MLA, Bob McCann, Chairman of NHSCT, NI Scrubs Co-ordinators, Clare Caulfield and Linzi McCaughey.

A special commemorative quilt honouring the herculean efforts of a band of stitchers to support frontline healthcare heroes during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, was unveiled last night during an event hosted by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

Sewers from the NI Scrubs Ballymena & Antrim Group were celebrated by Mayor, Cllr William McCaughey, who was joined by Health Minister Robin Swann MLA, Bob McCann, Chairman of the Northern Health & Social Care Trust, and representatives from Unite the Union.

Set up during at the height of the pandemic in 2020, the group set about answering the call to help our incredible frontline NHS workers to get access to more scrubs and other PPE.

Led by Linzi McGaughey and Clare Caulfield, the group grew to 250 volunteers based across the borough and beyond.

By the time the first lockdown had started to ease, the group had produced over 4,500 scrub sets, 2,600 laundry bags, 2,200 scrub hats, 3,000 masks, 200 patient gowns, and 500 headbands.

They had received over 250 orders and raised over £19,000, with support from local businesses, individuals and community groups.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr William McCaughey, said:

“The story of this group is a fascinating one, and one which demonstrates the generosity of spirit, kindness and commitment to help others which is so common in the wonderful people of our borough.

“Led by Linzi McGaughey and Clare Caulfield, the group reached far and wide across the borough to ask for materials and sewers who could turn the materials into scrubs.

“Such was the scale of the operation, and the scale of the generosity of local people, that soon teams of people had to be drafted in to help source, sort and allocate materials to the sewers. Sewing machines were dusted off, and a real difference was made to our frontline healthcare system.

“Local businesses and communities got behind the group with fundraising, and the demand for their scrubs just kept growing. Up to 18 hours a day was spent taking orders directly from the hospitals, doctors, nurses, community workers, and care homes.

“We are all indebted to this group of amazing people, and it was wonderful to be able to view their latest creation in quilt form as a testament to all of their hard work and dedication.”

Health Minister Robin Swann added:

“The pandemic will be etched in our memories as one of the most challenging, anxious and indeed sad periods in our history but for me it will also be a time when we saw humanity at its very best. Despite adversity, we witnessed teams of volunteers, like NI Scrubs, step forward and achieve so much.

“You should all be very proud of the contribution you made and you have my sincere appreciation for your efforts.

“There is no doubt that Covid has been a hugely challenging time for everyone and this is particularly true for those working in our health and social care services. The tapestry is a very fitting tribute to all the staff who worked tirelessly and courageously for us throughout the pandemic.

“I want to again place on record my thanks to every single one of our health and social care workers for everything they do, every day.”

Accepting the tapestry on behalf of Northern Health and Social Care Trust, Chairman Bob McCann, said:

“I would like to thank the NI Scrubs volunteers for this very poignant and reflective piece of art, which in years to come will be a very important reminder of how far we all came in the fight against COVID-19.

“The pandemic has clearly had a significant and sustained impact on all aspects of our health service and our staff have faced many challenges over the course of the last 20 months.

“I know that staff were very appreciative of initiatives such as that of NI Scrubs and the generosity and kindness shown to staff buoyed them during some of the darkest days.”

Clare Caulfield from NI Scrubs said:

“The huge effort of every volunteer will be talked about for generations.

“It is mine and Linzi’s honour to have played a small part in this incredible team of amazing individuals who stepped up when our country needed kindness, support and community the most.”


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