Sewing to say thank you

Tracey Sutherland has turned her passion for sewing to making face coverings to say thank you to Francis House.

Tracey Sutherland sat at sewing machine making face coverings

Tracey at home making face coverings.

Francis House cared for Tracey and Steve Sutherland’s son Daniel until his death in 2011.

The family from Walkden, 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 services 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 Steve suggested people could make a donation to Francis House Children’s Hospice.”

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.

“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!”

Tracey Sutherland
Face coverings montage

Woman wearing face coveringAli from the BBC’s ‘Great British Sewing Bee’ then 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.

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.

A home from home

“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.

“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 Sutherland Francis House family

Matthew, Tracey, Daniel and Andrew

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."

Tracey Sutherland

Tracey is asking for a suggested donation of £5 for each face covering and scrub bag. There are a variety of designs and colours available including polka dots and coverings with black linings to not show make-up marks. To date she has raised more than £650.

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