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Avanti West Coast employee joins family and friends to sew for community during COVID-19 pandemic

Diane Forrester

An Avanti West Coast employee has put her sewing skills to good use by helping to produce hundreds of accessories for NHS workers in Cumbria.

Diane Forrester, a Customer Service Assistant on board Avanti West Coast’s trains based out of Carlisle, joined family and friends in supporting North and West Cumbria Scrub Hub – a voluntary community group making scrubs and accessories for NHS staff and frontline workers in Cumbria during the coronavirus pandemic.

After hearing stories about the shortage of scrubs for NHS staff, Diane teamed up with her family and friends, including her mother (a seamstress), sister-in-law and niece to dedicate their spare time to creating accessories for local hospital workers and help fulfil orders received by the Scrub Hub.

Between them they have made and delivered 550 scrub bags, 140 ear protectors and 210 headbands to NHS workers in Cumbria – utilising Diane’s hoard of fabric and materials donated by fabric and haberdashery store chain, Abakhan, and her local sewing shop, Superior Sewing Centre in Carlisle. They also posted items out to hospital workers further afield.

With appeals from a children’s hospital ward and local Food Banks the group continue to volunteer their time, alongside their regular jobs, home-schooling and shopping for their family, to make items for those in need. In addition, Diane has recently started to make face masks for family and friends.

Diane said: “I did not need to give any thought to help during the pandemic. The NHS were going through a crisis we have never experienced in our lifetime – the stories of the shortage of personal protective equipment and staff being separated from their families to keep them safe was heart-breaking. It has been an amazing joint effort to support NHS workers – it’s unlike anything I have ever done before and I’m proud to be a part of it. I loved being able to make a small difference and it’s great to help other areas of the local community who need support during this time.”

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