A Cadet Force Adult Volunteer has used old uniforms as fabrics to create and supply personal protective equipment to members of her local community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sergeant Instructor Vivienne Bradley, of Minden Company, West Lowland Battalion Army Cadet Force (ACF), has turned her hand to making scrubs and facemasks in the fight against the Coronavirus.
The volunteer at the Dalbeattie detachment in Dumfries and Galloway is a teacher at Douglas Ewart High School, Newton Stewart, where she teaches drama, outdoor learning and helps pupils with their mental health.
However, since the nation was put on lockdown in March, Vivienne has been working from home and decided to make the use of her spare time, along with her sewing machine and large dining room table.
“I don’t like sitting doing nothing,” the former university art student said. “I started making face masks before the advice came out to wear them. I just figured I would be able to do something to help.
“I started making facemasks which are really easy. They can be made out of anything at all, you just need three layers of fabric. I even cut up some of my old number twos!
“I made the pattern and put them in Polly Pockets and put it on my fence outside with the facemasks which people have been taking and starting to make their own.”
Vivienne has now joined a large group of volunteers who aim to use their sewing skills to help provide essential clothing for the NHS and other health and social care settings.
The For the Love of Scrubs Dumfries and Galloway group is making scrubs, pyjamas, nightgowns and drawstring bags for facilities across the region.
Vivienne was initially making complete sets of scrubs, however, the group soon learned they could make more scrubs if they were to each play one part in the process.
Each bale cuts 9 to 10 sets of scrubs and they hope to make over 1400.
Now Vivienne is in charge of cutting the fabric before passing it on to the seamstress.
“The Rotary Club in Dumfries decided there was a lack of PPE for people so they decided they’d get a bunch of volunteers together and make it,” Vivienne explained.
“They’ve created all these little regional hubs throughout Dumfries and Galloway and to join you had to make a test piece. So I had to download the pattern, print it out, stick 90 pieces of paper together, cut out the size I wanted to make, cut out the fabric and overlock (stitch the seams to stop fraying) and then photograph and send it off for somebody to approve. Turns out I was good enough and I got sent a bale of fabric to start cutting.
“In the beginning it was quite nice because I was making outfits and hanging them up on wall and you could see how productive you were being but we discovered it is actually quicker if one person does one part of the process.
“I get it at the start, cut around the pattern fold it all up and it gets picked up and it is taken to the next person who does the overlocking and then they take it to the next person who does the stitching.
“I never actually get to see the finished article which is a little disappointing but it’s quicker.
“I am cutting one approximately every 45 minutes so I can do about nine in a day.”
Vivienne joined Minden Company of the West Lowland Bn ACF in 2019 and has recently gained the rank of Sergeant Instructor.
Once lockdown restrictions are lifted Vivienne is looking forward to meeting up with the Cadets and fellow volunteers.
Concerning Cadet life she said: “It is so much fun. You will meet a great bunch of people who are so positive, energetic and enthusiastic.
“I have met people who I have been really good friends with and I know we will be friends for life.
“It feels like being part of another family. The camaraderie is just brilliant and I have not experienced that anywhere else. That shared purpose, the shared aim, really helps. It’s lots of work but well worth it.”
Vivienne is selling face masks to rasie money for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity which provides a lifetime of support to soldiers, veterans and their immediate families..
She also plans to take part in The Cateran Yomp – a 54-mile hike in 24 hours across rural Perthshire on 6-7 June 2020 – as part of her fundraising.