Baldwin Boxall staff member receives ‘Wealden Hero Award’ during furlough

Alison Cousins (Marketing Manager) and Maisie Jones were “over the moon” when they were presented the Wealden Hero Award by MP Nus Ghani. The awards were handed over on Chapel Green in the ladies’ home town of Crowborough on Friday 31st July.

Needing something to do whilst being furloughed, Alison first contacted Maisie in April. Maisie had started sewing face masks for the local community and wrote a post on Crowborough Watch (Facebook page) to see if there was any public interest. She received a lot of requests asking for masks and it was on this post that Alison messaged to offer help. “From this point onwards, we didn’t look back,” Alison said “We were busy from day one!” The Sewing Crow-Bees was born.

Having agreed at the beginning that the purpose of these masks was to keep the community safe as well as fundraise for charities, they first began fundraising for NHS Charities Together – quickly going over their target of £1,500.

Masks waiting to be packed and distributed to the community

The two, working from their own homes, made the masks from donated materials whilst posting about their activity and taking requests via Facebook. “It soon became clear that we wouldn’t be able to keep up with demand – no matter how many hours we worked.” Said Alison. “Making an online appeal thankfully brought in assistance from more Crowborough based helpers.”

It was around this time that the decision to change to a more local charity was made. Knowing that Crowborough Hospital had been forced to cancel their main fundraiser – the annual fete – due to the pandemic, this to them was the obvious choice. Their Virgin Money fundraiser, which links directly to the Friends of Crowborough Hospital, began. The Sewing Crow-Bees have since collected well over £6,000 for the hospital and are hoping to ultimately reach their goal of £15,000 in donations.

The group gradually grew to eighteen ladies – all of whom had never met, all individually working from their own homes. The only sightings of any kind were when masks and materials were exchanged – at a safe distance, or simply left outside a door to collect!

When Maisie and Alison were told about the award, they knew the presentation should include all the ladies “Because, without them, this work simply couldn’t have been achieved. It was such a shame that a few of the group were unable to be present on the day, but even so it was wonderful to see the ladies together for the first time ever.” Said Alison. “Everyone has worked so incredibly hard during these months. There has been broken sewing machines, sore backs and hands along the way. It has been jolly hard work, but so very rewarding in many ways.”

Nus Ghani told the group that the Wealden constituency was giving only 100 Covid-19 awards across all 110,000 people living in the constituency and said the Sewing Crow-Bees were consistently the most nominated group. She congratulated them on being very worthy award winners.

Chairman of the Friends of Crowborough Hospital, Chantal Wilson, said: “The Sewing Crow-Bees have done a marvellous job keeping Crowborough supplied with face masks and at the same time raising a huge amount of money for the Friends of Crowborough Hospital. “There has never been a better time to support our wonderful hospital. The award is extremely well deserved and the Friends are so pleased that this voluntary group has been given this recognition. Thank you Sewing Crow-Bees!”

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he group has so far raised a total in excess of £8,000 for their chosen charities and have produced over 6,000 masks for the Crowborough community.

If you would like to help the group to reach their goal of £15,000 goal, please follow this link.

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