Tes FE people of the year: Sandra Thomson 

College lecturer Sandra Thomson ensured she and others could support the NHS by making thousands of scrubs for health workers
30th December 2020, 12:00pm
Kate Parker

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Tes FE people of the year: Sandra Thomson 

https://www.tes.com/magazine/news/general/tes-fe-people-year-sandra-thomson
For The Love Of Scrubs: Sandra Thomson Recognised

This year, teachers across the country have given up thousands of hours of their own time in the fight against Covid-19: whether it was to offer extra pastoral support to students, estimate their exam grades or check over the latest Department for Education guidance. 

And often, the effort wasn't constrained to the education world. During the Easter holidays, Glasgow Kelvin College fashion lecturer Sandra Thomson and her colleagues spent hours lending a hand to the NHS by producing sewing patterns for scrubs. 

Their work was part of the national For the Love Of Scrubs campaign set up by Fabric Bazaar and Mirka Bridal Couture to manufacture the essential workwear and scrubs needed by frontline and supporting staff. Thomson noticed that many of her past students had been involved and were posting pictures on social media - to which organisers had replied to say they needed extra material and elastic. 

Thomson drove to college, emptied the (many) cupboards of elastic and donated it all to the campaign. 


More: Want to make scrubs for the NHS? Here's how

Tes FE People of the Year: Pete Roberts

Tes FE People of the Year: Sam Parrett


An army of volunteers

Writing for Tes at the time, Thomson said: "I drove around to the warehouse and delivered it all to her. It was quite an emotional exchange: she said that they had had thousands of responses from people saying they were willing and able to sew the scrubs at home. The fashion industry had answered their call in abundance. She said that thanks to the material, elastic and army of volunteers, hundreds of pairs of scrubs would be made within a couple of days." 

Thomson had also noticed that on Facebook, people said they were struggling with the patterns - and quickly, alongside college colleagues, she took over the pattern side of the operation. Instead of taking a well-deserved break over the Easter holidays, they were bent over dining room tables, crafting away for four or five hours at a time before rushing to the post office to get the patterns distributed to the volunteer seamstresses. 

By mid-April, hundreds of patterns in a range of sizes had been sent all over Scotland - enabling others to make hundreds of pairs of scrubs in turn. Even if the volunteers ran out of material, it didn't stop them, with many making pairs out of old sheets and duvet covers. As Thomson put it in her blog for Tes: a clean pair of scrubs is better than no scrubs at all, no matter what the material.

Thomson and her colleagues are a brilliant representation of how college staff utilised their skill-set to help the country tackle coronavirus this year - and we're sure that the thousands of NHS workers who had clean scrubs as result would join us in celebrating their incredible effort. 

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