Christine swaps making panto costumes for sewing wash bags for frontline workers

The Blue Light Theatre Company 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. Now she is turning her skills instead to sewing for frontline workers in the ongoing Coronavirus crisis.

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.

“They’re making the bags for all our Blue Light Theatre NHS friends and their colleagues,” 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.

“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.”

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

The Facebook group Bag The Bug – Covid 19 – York, Harrogate & Knaresborough was set up a couple of weeks 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.

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

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

In a fortnight, more than 300 North Yorkshire members have sent 1,850 bags to care homes, NHS staff, GP surgeries, ambulance stations and hospitals.

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

Co-organiser Joanne says: “I think it just shows how, in times of need, everyone can pull together and do their bit. The community spirit has most certainly come out, which is wonderful. Whether people have sewn ten pillowcases or 100, or have donated one duvet cover or ten, every little helps.”

As the demand for the bags continues to grow, Adrian Deligny is among the care workers who have received bags. “The uniform bag is an excellent idea in order to help stop the spread of the virus at home,” he says.

“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.”

If any organisation requires bags, or if anyone wishes to donate material (it must be able to be washed at over 60c), or can help in any other way, please contact Joanne Halliwell. Do this either via the group’s Facebook page or by email to