Monday, July 20, 2020

The story behind the Gingers

I started making these "Gingers" as a way to cope with being stuck at home at the beginning of the COVID lock down.

I planned to put a dozen or so in my front window: partly  to thank the local keyworkers and local heroes, and partly for the children to come and look at on their daily walks.

I posted a few photos on a "We're all in this together" local page on Facebook and got great responses - people suggested new ones for me to make, and explained they loved waking up to a new Ginger each morning!

So not only have I found making these very therapeutic: but they clearly helped other people too.  Eventually we could see that lockdown would start to be relaxed, and we had to come up with an exit strategy or I'd be making them forever!  

Some people had already suggested they wanted to buy one or two specific Gingers so instead we decided to auction off 48 of them to raise money for the Wraysbury and Horton Voluntary Care charity that helped so many people in so many ways over lockdown (continuing the good work they have done for the last 30 or so years but on a much larger scale!)

The Gingers brought out the best in people: many people have experienced or seen negative comments on Facebook but there was honestly nothing other than positive outcomes: People not only bid on the Gingers, but some people paid for Gingers they did not win - a straight forward contribution; other didn't even bid but made a donation; on several occasions a Ginger was bought and gifted to another village resident

COVID19 has been a shocking experience but it has shown how well our villages came come together!!

Just when I thought The "Ginger Factory" could close - the Parish Council asked me to make a duplicate set to keep in a frame in a community building in the village ... so I started all over again!

The total I raised for the charity is £1506!!!

(To see how they are made look at the technical page)

Gingers A to B

Air Ambulance (Thames Valley):  - we can probably all think of a time when they have arrived in response to a 999 call.  I know of two instances in our villages in the last 12 months - they are completely reliant on donations, with no Government funding at all.  As with the NHS Ambulance crews they have put themselves in danger of catching COVID19 with each call they have answered, and with all charities their fundraising events have been cut, but they have still attended every time they have been called out!  Thank you!

Ambulance Crew: Ambulance Crews of all sorts were in huge danger of infection from paramedics answering 999 calls to transport drivers taking patients to and from hospital.  Thank you all!

Amazon (and other) Delivery Drivers: We knew it wasn't safe to go to the shops, but that didn't stop us shopping from home - I had to buy felt and thread and ribbons for the gingers!!  The shopping delivery companies stepped up their game to cope with the increased demand and worked out non-contact deliveries and kept supplies coming to our doors!  Thank you!

Armed Forces: They have been called in to deliver food to the vulnerable and to administer COVID19 testing - not at all what they expected when they signed up, but they've done a great job!  Thank you!

Ben: This ginger is seen from behind - on 16th may we sadly lost a young dad well known in the villages and very involved.  He was one of our flood wardens in 2014 and this Ginger was based on a photo of him from then.  Goodbye Ben: the village wont be the same

Baker: From the staff at the big bread factories to the bakers in small artisan bakeries and village pubs bread never ran out, and our local pub baker even kept us supplied with flour when that threatened to run out (not the flour itself but the bags it gets distributed in!) Thank you!

Blood & Transplant Staff (NHS): Husband and I were giving blood on a Thursday night during lockdown.  I can't tell you how emotional it was to be there clapping with all  the other donors!  The need for blood didn't stop, so the donation events didn't stop even though there were all sorts of new procedures in place!  If you haven't donated and you can why not give it a go!

Builder: So many builders and construction crews kept working: we still need the Hospices and homes and schools they were working on so they kept building!  Thank you!

Bus Driver: We don't have a frequent bus service, but the driver we have (Horton only has the one bus) carried on all through lockdown - checking up on his regulars if they weren't at their usual place at the usual time, stopping to pick up anyone running to get to the bus stop, letting bus obsessed littlies sit in his seat, waving to anyone who waved at him.  Thank you Jason!

Gingers C to E

Captain Tom: The lovely Captain Tom undertook to walk 100 times round his garden before his 100th birthday and hoped to raise £1000 in sponsorship for the NHS Charity.  He actually raised more than £32 million with the nation tuning in daily to see what the new total was - and just before I created this blog he was knighted by the Queen at Windsor Castle!  The medals I stitched are his pre-knighthood medals!!!  Thank you Sir Tom

Carers: wow what a great job they are doing!  This Ginger thanks all the carers who care for the sick and the elderly either in a care home,a hospice or in their own homes - and also the chiropractors, chiropodists, dispensing chemists and emergency dentists: and anyone else I’ve missed in the health / care sector ... Thank you all for doing a great job.!

Chefs: During lockdown we have been able to get takeaway meals and some delivery meals from all sorts of places that came up with a solution to customers not being able to go out for meals and restaurants not being able to open.  Our local restaurants not only cooked for paying customers but also provided free meals for housebound elderly who were self- isolating, and other provided meals for the local Homeless Project guests  Thank you all!

Children: What a year it has been for children:  Their lives have been turned upside down and they don’t understand the reasons.  Their parents are, at best, fine some days and almost demented with worry other days, and at worst are ill or hospitalised.  It’s very confusing for them but the children are doing brilliantly.  

The older ones missed exams and proms and saying goodbye to their school mates.   The younger ones are missing their friends and their teachers. Hopefully they will remember this year as the year mum and dad were home with them for months on end, the year they painted rainbows on paper, on wood, on the pavements and on the walls, and the year they bashed on saucepans and clapped and cheered at bedtime and no one told them to be quiet!
And a special mention to the children who have been attending school throughout so their key worker parents could go to work

Pharmacy & SOCO: This ginger represents people who are key workers AND local heroes!  The staff at the pharmacy are doing a great job even if the first encounter is a bit of a shock!  To Simon and the team, and also to the SOCOs and others who need to be protected by these unflattering outfits we say Thank You!!!

Delivery Drivers are a group of Key worker heroes that kept the country going: from delivering the strangely scarce loo rolls to the shops, to delivering medical equipment to the new Nightingale hospitals and COVID19 testing equipment to the test centres.  Thank you EHL and all the others who kept on delivering

Furloughed Staff: So many people were put on furlough - it looked a like 4 month paid holiday but I would have been bored within days.  Without this strange limbo between work and redundancy so many more would have lost their jobs: so to all those who sunbathed, and read, and learned new skills and volunteered for food banks, and dog walking etc, thank you and we hope that you have jobs to go back to 

Doctors along with other NHS staff have been amazing!  As well as working incredibly long hours, sometimes with inadequate PPE supplies risking their own health, in some cases they have had to move out of the family home where others are self isolating for health reasons. Thank you all

Engineers have kept working to make sure telephone lines, trains and power stations have kept working with strange changes to supply demand as we all got used to new ways of working from home.  Instead of working in teams they often worked alone to keep themselves COVID safe, but with inherent risks of working alone.  

Additionally engineers and maintenance crews have looked after traffic lights and gas and electric supplies and the other essential utilities that we rely on even in lockdown; it also represents the teams that keep dangerous structures safe and move fallen trees from the roads.  It’s also a thank you to the roadside services who have kept us moving on essential journeys.

Gingers F to L

F is for Frazzled Mums!!!  The village mums and dads have been amazing: They never expected to home-school their kids, especially not while in many cases also caring for self isolating elderly relatives and working from home themselves!  Many told me they hadn't done any school work with their kids, but I know their children have learned to cook, to ride bikes, to do somersaults on the trampoline, to grow (and eat!) vegetables and how to use Zoom to 'meet' up with classmates: they learned more than you know and you have done a great job!  Thank you!

Firefighters have been needed just as much through lockdown as at other times, and of course they have had to work together in close proximity regardless of the risk.  Fire Fighters and rescue teams are heroes all year round!!  Thank you for everything 

Funeral Directors - we owe a big thanks to all who deal with that side of “life”, including at the moment dealing with grieving relatives who can’t give their loved ones the send off they want.  Thank you

Ginge: People couldn't get out to be entertained but the pubs in the village arranged music nights so people could attend from their own homes.  This Ginger represents our own Ginge who raised money for the Wraysbury and Horton Voluntary Care charity: Thank you Ginge

Handyman and odd job people were in lockdown and isolation but have still answered the call of “my loo is broken”, “my shower is leaking” or “help I broke the  [insert object name]” and have ventured out to help their customers: I know this because I’m married to one !  

Lap Top users: This Ginger is to thank the people who have not been able to go to work- they have sat at their lap top on the floor, on the bed, amongst the children’s toys, anywhere rather than their comfortable health and safety approved desk!  This design was tweaked to represent different bank workers - I have a friend who works at a traditional bank who has been working long hours to process loan applications to help people through this; and other who works at an international bank who was tube travelling into London long after lockdown despite being vulnerable cancer survivor, and my older  daughter who works for an online bank whose team of developers have had to make all sorts of changes to allow us to bank under these changes circumstances.  It also thanks a member of our extended family who works for a Data Bank - we are all relying on the internet so much more which means we need him to ensure it’s working well.  Thank you to the bank staff and all the others who have managed to keep going thanks to there trusted laptop!

Gingers M to P

Midwives: This Ginger is to thanks all the Midwives and others working in Maternity Hospitals. Three young ladies in my extended family have had a baby in lockdown - giving birth at any time can be scary but in lockdown it must be so much worse!  Thank you to the awesome midwives who made their experiences as positive as possible (and welcome to the world to baby girls Aoife, Landry and Theia) 

Milkie: Where would we be without our Milkie?  I not only remember one from childhood, but we've had one for the 34 years we have lived here.  Most of the time it's a convenience but for the COVID months it's been an absolute essential for so many people.  The delivery organisations have stepped up to the mark and arranged contactless payments and online ordering, and have added many more groceries and essentials to their lists.  Thank you to all the Milkies

Mrs Mop: This Ginger might be a bit of a caricature, but she is to thank all the cleaners who are working in hospitals, care homes, hospices and other care facilities where their skills are so necessary to protect everyone

Nurses: Along with the other NHS Gingers, Nurses have been amazing - they have worked long hours coping with the usual diseases and injuries as well as the COVID19 patients at risk to themselves and their loved ones.  They have been asking for scrub bags so they can strip off all their uniform to wash it at high temperature without the risk of shaking any virus off in the family home!  We have asked so much of them and the have delivered - thank you all!

Pilots - air crews have in many cases been furloughed, but living under the flight path we know that planes are still flying.  They have gone to bring back residents who needed repatriation, or to return others to their home countries, to bring essential supplies that could come quicker by air: all with the risk that they can be infected.  Thank you to everyone involved in the air travel industry  

Police:  Along with the other members of the emergency services the Police have never stopped working.  From dealing with the increase in domestic violence and aggravated robbery, to the traffic jams caused by day trippers who thought it would be OK to go to the seaside during lockdown as well as the usual incidents that causes us to call 999 - they have been amazing!  Thank you

Posties - Where would we be without them?  I've been sending cards and small gifts to friends who have been having a tough time, and have received stuff back - its so lovely to know that when you drop an envelope through the red post box it will be collected, sorted, transported and delivered through the friends' letter box within just a few days -who knows how much infected stuff has ended up in the post but all the post office staff have done their magic day after day!  Thank you

Prison Officers and other similar employees have had to carry on working irrespective of COVID19: Prisoners have had to be monitored, cared for, fed and have access to the facilities such as laundry and exercise irrespective of what has been happening 'outside'.  Thank you!

Gingers Q to S

Security Officers: From checking to bombs at the airport, to over night rounds in a shopping centre Security Staff have been working through.  As the ones who often have to turn away people who think they have a right to enter, or have to break up fights, Security staff are often on the receiving end of abuse.  When the person you are dealing with could be shouting a virus at you as well as threats this can be a very daunting job to have - Thank you all

Sewers: Hospitals found themselves short of scrubs and theatre hats, and staff wanted scrubs bags so they were able to undress and easily transfer their uniforms to washing machines without shaking infections around their homes.  People wanted masks to reduce their own likelihood of catching COVID19, and to protect others in case they had it but didn't know: an army of volunteer "scrubbers" took to their scissors and sewing machines and between them made tens (if not hundreds) of thousands sets of scrubs, scrub bags and hats and masks.  Sewing machines were dusted off, patterns studied, fabric cut and stitched and hospitals presented with the kits their staff needed!  Thank You Scrubbers!!

Shopping Deliveries:  the supermarkets struggled with people emptying the shelves while they hoarded groceries but very quickly managed to change their online portals to cope with the huge numbers of people who didn't want to risk going to the shops.  Behind the scenes people shopped for us and loaded it onto lorries and others came with a cheerful smile to bring the shopping.  Thank you!

This Ginger was a message to all of us - we should simply Stay Home and Stay Safe!

Swan Radio is our local community Radio station.  They were not allowed to access their  studio, but managed to cobble together broadcasting set ups at various homes so they could continue to broadcast  from 8am to 10pm all week.  They kept us up to date with volunteer groups and their provisions,  and had on-air chats with organisers of on-line and socially distanced activities.  Thank you!

Gingers T

Teachers found themselves in a whole new working pattern: some at school with a group of children of mixed ages and mixed ability who had one thing in common: that their parents were key workers so the children needed minding during the day, and others who were working from home sending out class notes and arranging online lessons and zoom lessons, phoning families to see how they were getting on, and delivering food vouchers where families had previously received free school meals.   This is not what they have studied for and they have to work out the best way to cope given the children in the school, the families involved and their own family circumstances Since then they have taught children in 'bubbles' trying to bring all the children to the same level.  Thank you all for doing such a great job

Town Crier: We don't have an official Town Crier, but we have our lovely Henry who does his best to make sure no one misses what is going on in the villages.  Twice a week he does a round up of all the activities he has seen or has been made aware of and summarises them on Facebook.  Having run the Ginger Auction on FB I know how complicated it can be to keep track of all the threads but he's been doing a great job!  - Thank you Henry

Tractor Drivers - this Ginger represents all the farm workers and other food providers who carried on sowing and tending and harvesting so the nation could carry on eating!  Thank you

Truck Drivers moved food and other essential items from where they were made or manufactured to where they were needed: almost everything we have bought has been delivered to the shop or the warehouse by lorry, and if truck drivers had ceased working  the country would have come to a standstill.  Thank you