Valerie swaps supermarket checkout to sew quirky scrubs for children’s wards

A Portadown woman has swapped the supermarket checkout to sew much needed scrubs for our local health care workers.

Valerie Kelly, who has worked at Tesco in Portadown’s The Meadows for almost 16 years, has the full support of the firm.

Rather than traditional blue and green scrubs, Valerie specialises in fun prints, often using new children’s bedsheets which feature popular characters like ‘baby shark’.

With many of the scrubs being used in children’s wards Valerie felt these quirky, child-friendly prints would help put a smile on the faces of young patients and health workers alike.

Some of the bright and child friendly scrubs made by Tandragee woman Valerie Kelly

Valerie, who is originally from Glenanne but now lives in Tandragee, makes between 15-20 scrubs each day.

She has friends and family who are doctors and nurses so knows first hand what they are struggling with and this inspired her to bring out the sewing machine.

Donations have also been flowing in from supportive shoppers who have been keen to help by gifting new bedsheets for the scrubs.

Valerie said she was keen to help in any way possible, “We’re part of a tight-knit community here in Portadown and when I heard about the need for scrubs I wanted to do my bit along with many other sewing groups who are doing similar work.”

A medic, wearing one of Valerie Kelly's gowns says: "Came on shift and found some nice baby shark scrubs had been left for me. Brightened up my day. Thank you."

Valerie, who has three grown up children and three grandchildren, said: “I’ve always had an interest in sewing and dress making but never done anything to this scale and don’t think my sewing machine has worked this hard in years!

“The support and encouragement I’ve had from the team at Tesco and many of our regular customers has been fantastic and allowed me to focus on making as many scrubs as possible.”

In addition to the scrubs, Valerie, who has worked in the health and beauty departments at Tesco, is now also making washable ‘kit bags’ for volunteers from the St John Ambulance, which can be used to place worn uniforms into before volunteers return home, allowing them to place all items directly into their washing machine and therefore reducing the risk of infection.

Speaking about Valerie’s impressive achievement, Jonny Craig, manager at Tesco, The Meadows, said, “We’re all so proud of what Valerie has been doing to help the many healthcare workers locally and across Northern Ireland.

Valerie Kelly

“We’re pleased to be able to support her as she swaps her work in our store to take up another essential role at her sewing machine.

“We’ve also been overwhelmed by the support from customers who have donated new bedsheets for Valerie to use - it’s fantastic to see everyone coming together in the community.”

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Valerie Kelly with members of the St John's Ambulance Service who arrived at Tesco in Portadown to take delivery of scrubs made by the Tandragee woman

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