After the green light for Blue Light and co’s Bag The Bug for the NHS, now comes the red light with 13,757 wash bags in the bag

The Blue Light Theatre Company’s pantomime costume maker, Christine Friend, turning her hand to sewing wash bags for NHS frontline workers

CHRISTINE Friend normally would be making costumes for The Blue Light Theatre Company’s pantomime in York. For the past eight weeks, she has been turning her skills instead to sewing for frontline workers in the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

She is among a group of volunteers from York, Harrogate and Knaresborough that has come together via Facebook to make uniform wash bags out of anything from pillowcases to old duvet covers.

Now the Facebook group Bag The Bug is being wound up because many of the sewers and supporters are going back to work today, having made a total of 13,757 wash bags to donate to care homes, NHS staff, GP surgeries, ambulance stations and hospitals.

“They’ve been making the bags for all our Blue Light Theatre NHS friends and their colleagues and I think it’s amazing they’ve reached that total in only eight weeks,” says Christine’s husband, Mark, actor and publicist for Blue Light Theatre, a company made up of paramedics, ambulance dispatchers, York Hospital staff and members of York’s theatre scene.

Joanne Halliwell and her daughter Abbey, who set up the Bag The Bug group for York, Harrogate and Knaresborough

“The idea is that after a shift, frontline workers can remove their uniform at work, put it straight into the bag, then close it tight and pop it into their washing machine when they get home to prevent cross-contamination.”

The Facebook group Bag The Bug – Covid 19 – York, Harrogate & Knaresborough was set up two months ago by Joanne Halliwell and her daughter Abbey. “They were wanting something to do during lockdown and found a group called Bag The Bug, based in the north west, who were making the bags for NHS staff in Bolton,” says Mark.

“They decided to make some bags too and after talking to the group’s coordinator, they set up a group locally.”

Adrian Deligny: One of the frontline workers who has received a Bag The Bug wash bag

They had an immediate response, from people asking for the bags, others offering to donate material, sew, help to coordinate Bag The Bug and drive for the group.

Among the care workers to receive a bag was Adrian Deligny, who said: “The uniform bag is an excellent idea in order to help stop the spread of the virus at home.

“Before this, I was putting everything in a bin bag, which wasn’t the best. It is important that during these difficult times everybody is united. This project has shown an unparalleled demonstration of solidarity and generosity. My wife and I are extremely grateful.”

Organisations requiring bags had to contact Joanne Halliwell via the group’s Facebook page or by emailing