A volunteer group and a former mill worker have been utilising their skills to make scrubs for nurses and other healthcare professionals during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ex-mill worker Denise Lonsdale, 66, and a volunteer group that have been supplying materials and distributing across Greater Manchester, Manchester Pink Scrubs, have been doing all they can to help their effort.

The Bolton effort is being led by self-employed plasterer, Brett Dearden, 43, from Tonge Moor, who only very recently got into sewing, and Denise, who lives in Tonge Fold, and works at the Unemployed Advice Centre in Bolton.

Manchester Pink Scrubs was set up by three friends, Brett, from Bolton, Donna Bradshaw, 54, and Alison Hamilton, 54, both from Whalley Range, Manchester, a month ago to help with the NHS PPE shortfall.

Denise heard about the effort from Donna, with Brett saying: “Once she heard from Donna that we were making scrubs she wanted to help too. It’s been a pleasure helping Denise and friends get involved.

“They’ve been so keen for it. They’ve been made to feel useless by staying in but now they feel they are doing something positive.

“This project has brought a burst of positivity to their block of flats.

“Mill workers from the days of Burton and Vantona, they’re eager to sew scrubs for the NHS.

“It’s a full circle story of what we had and what we lost from our heritage skills in textiles and manufacturing, along with a great attitude of helping with the skills you have.”

Denise, along with friends Christine Russell, 74, who is sewing, and Joyce Zayne, 71, a former nurse who’s knitting, are working together in their block on Meadowside Avenue, Tonge Fold, to make the pink scrubs.

Denise, who worked at the Union Mill, Halliwell, said: “We’re just doing our bit. We’ve been told we must stay inside and we can’t leave but we want to feel just as useful as everyone else.

“We wish we could do more.

“It’s all we want to do, we don’t need praise we’re just doing our bit.”

Denise also stressed the importance of community spirit at this time with this project and old Bolton values being demonstrated with people making PPE and scrubs.

She said: “People used to get shifts working at all the mills, the machines never stopped, we had a thriving town, everybody cared about each other.

“We’ve been able to reminisce to those times with the sewing.”

So far, Denise has made three full sets of scrubs, with Brett planning on delivering them to the Royal Bolton Hospital and local practices.