Nus Ghani, MP for Wealden, is delighted to have awarded two Wealden Heroes from Groombridge last week.
At the beginning of lockdown, Sarah Merriman identified the need for a local support group and organised the Groombridge community response to Covid-19. She mobilised a network of volunteers, which has since grown to about 60. Volunteers were strategically organised around the village to cover every resident in need. Each street in Groombridge had a dedicated team of volunteers to help the neighbours. They have been regularly checking in with the elderly, collecting prescriptions, doing the shopping, running errands, dog walking, or just popping by to say hello from people’s front gates.
Sarah liaised with local supermarkets to ensure that volunteers were not refused buying multiple items, and worked with local church, surgery, and the Parish Council throughout the pandemic. She delivered gifts and flowers from well-meaning local businesses, distributed medication and regularly checked on the vulnerable. In addition to this and her full-time job, Sarah is the President of the Groombridge Women’s Institute and was managing communications for members throughout.
Chrissie Litchfield founded “Scrubbers United”, a group who has been making and supplying PPE such as scrubs, headbands and scrub bags to local nurses, surgeries, hospitals, hospices and nursing homes, as well as services in the surrounding areas including Crowborough, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells, Edenbridge, Sevenoaks and other areas.
The group includes around 55 volunteers of all ages and abilities, some shielding from Covid-19 themselves. Scrubbers United operated from individual homes, with volunteers sitting alone at sewing machines, cutting patterns and making scrubs. Chrissie’s idea has brought the community together and created new friendships amongst the volunteers.
Scrubbers United have been relying on donations from the community to purchase materials. Apart from donations of fabrics, threads, elastic and other material, they have raised over £12,000 and spent every penny on more supplies. Chrissie co-ordinated all the volunteers and acted as quality control. The group has made over 650 scrubs and laundry bags, head coverings, and they are still continuing to make face coverings. They have also sourced locally made visors and delivered them to local surgeries.
Nus Ghani said: “Sarah and Chrissie have made a huge contribution to Groombridge residents. From the many nominations that they have received, I know how valued they are by everyone in the community.
"It takes exceptional effort to coordinate such a robust network of support and Sarah has done a tremendous job. Chrissie’s passion and determination have brought together a wonderful project, which united the community and helped many frontline workers across Wealden throughout the pandemic. I am delighted to present them both with the Wealden Hero Award and to celebrate their efforts.”