THE COUNTESS of Wessex visited Frensham Heights School, near Farnham, on Wednesday last week to volunteer at the ‘For the Love of Scrubs’ Farnham, Aldershot and Guildford hub run out of the school.

The countess cut out some scrub trousers from material provided by the larger hub in Ascot – Scrubs Glorious Scrubs, bought with money raised by Noah Evans, the son of radio DJ Chris Evans – and also helped to make face coverings the group is making and distributing to volunteer organisations and elderly and vulnerable groups.

Sophie met the team from Frensham Heights School, led by Lynn Goodburne, who have worked tirelessly throughout this period making scrubs, scrub hats, scrub wash bags and headbands for the NHS, care homes and other front-line workers.

She also met members of some of the sub hubs from Rowledge, Churt and Upper Hale, each of which have more than 30 members.

The hub said she did a wonderful job helping the volunteers and thanked those present for their efforts over the recent months, thanked them for efforts so far and wished them well going forwards.

Slipping the first stitch

For the Love of Scrubs is a national voluntary organisation started by Ashleigh Linsdell, an A&E nurse at Pilgrim Hospital in Boston, Lincolnshire. It was initiated at the end of March and now has more than 50,000 members across the UK.

The Farnham, Aldershot and Guildford group at Frensham Heights School started with the simple act of Nick Boon-Arnell, the head of science, donating the school’s goggles and gloves to Frimley Park Hospital.

Then Giles Rudd, the head of DT, designed efficient non-surgical facial shields to be printed on the school’s 3D printers. Giles then remotely taught a team of residential staff to run the printers.

Following on from this, the small team of staff – Lynn Goodburne, Stefi, Katherine, Laura, Linn, Sian and Louise – became aware that NHS staff were in need of wash bags for their scrubs to avoid spreading the virus at home.

A call was put out for fabric donations and volunteers to sew and cut fabric, and with the discovery of some expert sewers in the school community, the feasibility of making scrubs became real.

This was when the team of staff at Frensham made contact with For The Love of Scrubs, and the initiative at Frensham really became a community affair, with more than 400 members, including sub hubs and individuals.

This group have sent finished items to local hospitals, GP surgeries, hospices and care homes in Farnham, Frimley, Basingstoke, Alton, Guildford, Southampton and surrounding areas, and more recently organised a delivery to a hospital in Wales which was desperate for scrubs.

The hockey hub

The Upper Hale, Seale & Sands and Aldershot and Farnham Hockey Club hub started on April 10, with a plea from a hockey friend of Catherine Powell’s, who is a paramedic based in Tongham, for scrubs bags. This was followed by a discussion with another hockey friend, a nurse at the Royal Surrey, and a further plea for scrubs.

The group started in The Glen and in Nutshell Lane in Upper Hale, and rapidly grew with the help of a neighbour Jocelyn Close. Reaching out via the Aldershot and Farnham Hockey Club Facebook page to that community saw the group grow again.

The team is now a mixed group of volunteers – some are neighbours in Upper Hale, some are members of Aldershot and Farnham Hockey Club and some folks from Seale and Sands, plus a few on the route between Upper Hale and Frensham Heights School.

They now have more than 30 generous and passionate volunteers from all walks of life, from 16 to over 70, most of whom have never met, some of whom had lived within a few houses of each other for years.

Some volunteers are themselves in the shielding category, from whom the group organises careful deliveries and collections.

The over-riding feedback from the group is their involvement has been a truly positive experience, using skills some had not practised in years to help the NHS, front-line workers, other volunteers and the vulnerable and elderly.

This group started making scrub bags, hats and head bands, then moved on making scrubs as the sewing competency of volunteers increased.

They are now making scrubs, face coverings and face-covering bags.

The group has supplied some of those in need directly, including a doctor at Frimley Park who was struggling to find small scrubs, and another doctor at the Royal Surrey who just couldn’t seem to get scrubs as by the time she got into work each day they were gone.

They have also donated wash bags and head bands to the paramedics at Tongham from where they have distributed to a wider group of paramedics and wash bags directly to folks in radiology at the Royal Surrey.

This group is now co-ordinating some of the distribution of face coverings from the large group to the Farnham food bank and Share Farnham.

Churt WI for Scrubs

The second-biggest hub is in Churt with two groups having been formed.

The Churt WI got involved on Sunday, April 19 when Lucy Petrie, a parent of a Frensham Heights School, and a volunteer from the original group, Marion Mitchell, the president of Churt WI, got together – and the Churt WI for Scrubs was born.

To date, 15 ladies have volunteered their services. But there was still a need for more volunteers so Marion liaised with Churt Parish Council clerk Dawn Barrow to see if she would send out a request to Churt residents asking for volunteers.

The rest is history and by the end of the day – April 20 – two groups of volunteers from Churt were organised. The teams were named: ‘Churt WI for Scrubs’ and ‘Churt Scrubbers’.

There has been a recent demand from Frimley Hospital for scrubs made from children’s duvet covers as the material is softer and nicer to wear at night, which the Churt groups have led the way on.

Children’s letters

Brijitte Dreyfus from Churt introduced the idea of children writing letters to the elderly in the community and, with the backing of the team at Frensham Heights School, pupils have been writing beautiful letters, including drawing pictures of their pets.

These are being delivered with the meals to the elderly and vulnerable through community services such as The Gostrey Centre, which has also received face coverings and wash bags made by the group, as have Farnham Assist.