Warwickshire volunteers are ‘lockdown heroes’ after supporting the NHS

Wellesbourne Scrubbers made 2,500 items for NHS workers during lockdown

A Warwickshire community group is being presented with a Community Connectors Award by digital network provider Openreach in recognition for their support of the NHS during lockdown.

Keeping in contact by phone and email, Wellesbourne Scrubbers - set up by Sharon Underhill and boasting 65 members ranging from nine to 90 years of age - made more than 2,503 items for NHS workers between April and June 2020, including 700 sets of scrubs.

Openreach launched the Community Connectors Awards in 2020 to recognise individuals and groups for their work supporting local residents and vulnerable neighbours during lockdown. More than 130 nominations from MPs across the UK were judged by the panel including Openreach engineers and former Culture Secretary, Baroness Nicky Morgan of Cotes.

Clive Selley, Chief Executive of Openreach, said: “We were inspired to launch the Community Connectors Awards by the efforts of our engineering team. The stories received from across the country have been inspiring and show how many people are working to make a difference and support their neighbours during lockdown.

“The Wellesbourne Scrubbers haven’t sought recognition but are a wonderful example to their community. I’m delighted and very grateful to be able to thank them for everything they continue to do to support the vulnerable in our society.”

Sharon Underhill from the Wellesbourne Scrubbers, said: “What an incredibly proud day for all the volunteers of the Wellesbourne Scrubbers. A really big and heartfelt thank you to everyone at Openreach for recognising our contribution with this award, and of course to our MP, Jeremy Wright, for nominating us.

“During 12 weeks last year, between April and June, our local communities here in Warwickshire showed immense generosity. They raised more than £7,000 so our group of 65 volunteer scrubbers could make more than 700 sets of scrubs and literally thousands of headbands, face masks and washbags – all given to the frontline medical staff of this area to help them save lives during the pandemic.”

Rt Hon Jeremy Wright MP, who nominated the Wellesbourne Scrubbers for the award, said: “This Covid pandemic has brought out the best in us, and I’ve seen as a Member of Parliament many examples of people going to great lengths to help those in their community. There are few better examples of that than everyone involved in the Wellesbourne Scrubbers effort. You’ve done a tremendous amount to help those in the NHS, who are by turns helping us. So thank you to everyone who’s been involved. Congratulations to you all.”

As key workers, Openreach engineers have connected numerous field hospitals up and down the UK within days, also performing vital maintenance to keep families and businesses online and in contact during lockdown. Members of the engineering team have also camped out in remote parts of the UK to ensure local connectivity and volunteered in their spare time – performing roles including as delivery drivers for NHS blood supplies.