Preserving the work of hardworking ‘Scrubbers’

After dedicating their time to helping save the lives of those touched by the Covid-19 pandemic, a group of volunteers will now have their hard work recognised in a Horncastle museum.

Horncastle History & Heritage Society archivist Mary Silverton and chairman Ian Marshman receive the special set of scrubs for the Town Archive from Tracey Leyland and Shelley Wills from Horncastle & District Scrubs. EMN-211025-112858001

During the pandemic, when hospitals were running out of PPE and other supplies, a small group of women from Horncastle leapt into action to ensure the NHS and care home staff would still have the scrubs they needed.

Spokesman Shelley Wills explained: “We started making some bits ourselves and soon we needed somewhere to keep everything, and mayor Fiona Martin said we could use the Stanhope Hall.

“We put an advert out for volunteers and on that first Monday morning, we had a queue of people waiting to help.”

The group became Horncastle & District Scrubs, or the ‘Scrubbers’, and were soon sewing 100 outfits a day, and at their peak had help from around 450 volunteers – with the youngest aged 16 and the oldest well into their 80s.

The group made the national news and inspired similar groups across the country to make scrubs for their local hospitals and care homes.

The scrubbers have just made their 7,000th set of scrubs and now the shortage of scrubs has eased, Horncastle History & Heritage Society has received a set of scrubs to be added to the town archive and will feature in a new exhibition at the Joseph Banks Centre on the work of the Scrubbers, which opens on November 4 and run until December 4.

The special set of scrubs is made from a unique rainbow fabric designed by Tessa Semple, former head of design at Liberty of London.

It was used only to make scrubs for the NHS, and was commissioned after 11-year-old Noah Evans, the son of the DJ Chris Evans, raised over £120,000 to buy fabric for the Scrubbers.

Ian Marshman, chairman of the society, said: “We were delighted to receive this set of scrubs, which we hope will show future generations how volunteers from Horncastle came together during this global pandemic. What the Horncastle Scrubbers have achieved is inspirational.”

Shelley added: “It feels amazing to be commemorated in this way, we’ve had lots of lovely thank you messages and it’s so nice to be carved into Horncastle’s history.”

The centrepiece of the temporary exhibition will be a commemorative quilt, with each section carefully made by one of the volunteers with a design that reflects how they feel looking back on lockdown.

The scrubbers also branched out into making other items for the community, including Christmas sweet bags for the Horncastle community larder and dementia mitts.

The scrubbers are looking for a fresh crop of helpers to keep their good work going, whether its to help with sewing or to pitch in with admin tasks, all are welcome.

l If you can help the Horncastle & District Scrubbers, you can call 07946 397407 or email [email protected] You can also follow the scrubbers on Facebook at www.facebook.com/horncastlescrubbers/