Portlaoise hospitals have taken delivery of new scrubs clothing that were sewn up by ICA volunteers in homes all over Laois in recent weeks.
Last Friday, May 8 the Laois Federation ICA and Laois Civil Defence with Laois County Council formally presented the first batch of 43 sets of the scrubs, with more to follow as they get completed.
They presented 23 sets of the tunics and trousers to the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise. A further 20 sets went to the Maryborough Centre in the St Fintan’s Heathcare Campus.
The presentation followed a callout in April by the Laois ICA women's group, asking anyone in Laois skilled with sewing machines to make up the scrubs at home.
The sewing packs were put together by the ICA HQ as part of a national project.
They were snowed under with offers, receiving in total 600 emails from people asking to help, not just from Laois but all over Ireland.
Laois Federation ICA President Anne Payne had the mammoth task of answering each email and organising as many kits as possible. They were delivered to Laois volunteers' doorsteps, then collected by the Laois Civil Defence volunteers.
“The amount of support we received was just amazing, we will be forever grateful. It it great in a way that we had to turn down people rather than to go looking for more. I suppose so many people are cocooning or at home that they had the time and wanted to help,” said Ms Payne who is in the Portlaoise Guild.
Her appeal got picked up nationwide so Anne took the time to send contact details for the relevant ICA branch to each volunteer.
She had requested 200 packs but so many volunteers wanted to help nationwide that Laois only got 51 to start. She expects more packs to follow in coming weeks.
She now has enough people waiting to sew up the next batch when it arrives that no further new sewing volunteers are needed.
The packs each contained material, instructions and a diagram and tape for trousers. The ICA also contributed towards the cost of the material, pooling funds from branches all over Ireland.
“They are HSE standard, they can be washed at 90 degrees. There was no point making clothes to be used just once,” she said.
“It was a proud moment handing them over, even to see the scrubs coming back from homes made up was a personal thrill,” Ms Payne said.
“Without Laois Civil Defence we would not have been able to do this,” she said.
Laois Civil Defence was supported by Laois County Council to transport the packs, with ten volunteers on the road carrying out deliveries, all careful to keep social distance from the volunteer sewers.
Liam Preston is Laois Officer.
“We were delighted to help them out, courtesy of the CEO John Mulholland and Director of Services Simon Walton.
“We did 51 drops and 43 collections so far in every corner of Laois. I hope to do another run shortly to bring material that is being cut by a factory in Roscrea, up to the ICA in Dublin for making into more packs,” he said.
The Laois ICA ladies have also dug deep for equipment for the hospital.
They presented Portlaoise hospital staff with 10 new hospital thermometers worth €780. The association bought them using their own funds.
“We as a committee wanted to help so we asked the hospital what did they need. We wanted to give something that would be put to good use permanantly,” said Ms Payne.