Band of stitchers unveil lasting tribute to NI Scrubs heroes

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, has been unveiled.

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, Chair 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.

Sign up to our daily NorthernIrelandWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Mayor 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.

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.

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

“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 NHSCT 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. Clare Caulfield from NI Scrubs said: “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.”