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Sewing to say thank you to Francis House hospice

Tracey Sutherland has turned her passion for sewing to making face coverings to raise money for Francis House, the childrens hospice that cared for her son until his death in 2011.

Sewing to say thank you to Francis House hospice

"I made Steve a shirt once with musical notes on it and now people are walking around in face coverings that match his shirt!"
Tracey Sutherland

The family, from Walkden, Salford including Daniel’s twin Andrew, now 26, and older brother Matthew, now 28, were supported by the hospice for fourteen years.

After being furloughed from her job, Tracey started making face coverings as part of the Big Community Sew - aimed at uniting millions of UK sewers to make face coverings for their local communities throughout the pandemic.

She then came up with the idea of putting the face coverings into their own scrub bags to minimise handling and for use in the washing machine.

Orders started to flood in after she promoted her designs on her Instagram page @thesalfordsewer.

A Teaching Assistant for Ladywood Outreach service in Bolton, Tracey said: “I started by giving them away to family and friends. I didn’t want to make a charge as making money out of a crisis didn’t sit well with me. Then my husband Steve suggested people could make a donation to Francis House.”

The cloth coverings are made following guidance on the Big Community Sew website, using two layers of lightweight cotton and made sustainably with chiefly left-over material.

Sustainable sewing

Ali from the BBC’s ‘Great British Sewing Bee’ got in touch with Tracey wanting to support her cause. She ordered a face covering made of poppy patterned material to match one of her own shirts.

“Lots of people don’t realise they are walking around in face coverings of clothes that I have in my wardrobe. I made Steve a shirt once with musical notes on it and now people are walking around in face coverings that match his shirt!”

The motivation behind Tracey’s fundraising is the love and care that the Hospice gave to Daniel who passed away nine years ago aged 17.

The teenager had complex medical needs, and as a baby picked up a respiratory virus that put him into intensive care.  “From then on in Daniel had the lungs of an old man,” explained Tracey.

“We took a lot of convincing at first to come to a children’s hospice. We didn’t accept that Dan’s condition was life shortening because no matter how poorly he got he would bounce back a few days later.  It was like that right up until the end - we thought he would pull through.”

Home from home

“But we are so glad we came, the boys all had fantastic times at Francis House, they used to say we’re going to Danny’s holiday home. To come for respite was like coming to our second home.”

Daniel's bedroom at home was equipped with machines to monitor his heart rate and breathing, and Tracey admits to “not sleeping properly” during those seventeen years. 

“We did everything for him and the only other people that could do that were the staff at Francis House. They gave us so much for all those years and in whatever way I can give something back I will.

“We know Francis House loved caring for Daniel, and he had a big impact on them, so this is our way of saying Thank You.”

Funding crisis

The Didsbury based hospice is facing a huge shortfall in income from cancelled fundraising events as a result of the coronavirus crisis. The face coverings come in a variety of designs and colours including polka dots and coverings with black linings to not show make-up marks. A suggested donation of £5 for each face covering and scrub bag can be ordered from https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Traceys-Facecoverings


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