BEM honour for Ribble Valley Scrub Hub founder and community champion

The founder of a Ribble Valley sewing group, who stitched together to make thousands of face masks and scrubs for the NHS, has been honoured by the Queen.

Monday, 12th October 2020, 3:45 pm

Fiona Belcham (50), who lives in Clitheroe, has been recognised for services in the community and will receive a British Empire Medal.

The Ribble Valley Scrub Hub was launched in April after a call out on Facebook in response to local key workers needing scrubs and sewers who were willing to stitch for them.

The fantastic network of volunteers was organised and co-ordinated by Fiona, who also runs Patches and Buttons in the town. In total, the 70-plus volunteers made approximately 4,500 face masks, 450 comfort headbands, 850 washbags and 316 full sets of scrubs distributed entirely free of charge to those who needed them.

Sign up to our daily Burnley Express Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Fiona Belcham has been recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honour's List

Speaking about the moment she discovered she was in the Queen's Honour's List, Fiona said: "I found out about the award on September 24th and to be honest my first response was shock and surprise, I had no idea that anyone had nominated me. Having missed all initial e-mails, I was finally informed when I took a call at work from a secretary from the Cabinet Office!

"Since the news has spread of the BEM, the last couple of days have been amazing. I have been inundated with congratulations and well wishes, cards and flowers. So much so, I don’t think my phone stopped beeping at me for a full 24 hours! I think my brother Sean Slater (who incidental created all our brand design) summed it up best when he texted: ‘Holy Moly sis, that’s epic!’

"Ribble Valley Scrub Hub is a true community effort, supported by friends and family, local businesses, voluntary service groups and the 70-plus volunteers alongside me who threaded up their sewing machines, got behind the wheel or fired up their laptops particularly Gemma Bush and Philip Naylor, whose admin and logistic skills ensured that both materials and finished items were delivered safely and on time."

She added: "My husband, Andy Belcham, delivered the first set of scrubs back in April and Chrissy Naylor delivered the last to Pendleside practice in August, by which time Patches and Buttons had been re-opened for five weeks and so I was juggling work whilst continuing to manage the still busy Scrub Hub.

Ribble Valley Scrub Hub

"Over five months RV scrub hub cut and stitched over 1,800m. of fabric and deployed 2,600m. of elastic. We raised over £10,000 in 100 days thanks to the generosity of our donors, local Spars shops who thanks to Jenny Marsden collected on our behalf and Jenni Schumann, whose fabulous keyboard skills added funds from two local grants to the pot.

"As a result we have about £4,250.00, which we will shortly be distributing to local NHS projects and patient services."

Fiona concluded by saying she was looking forward to picking up her prestigious medal and attending the Buckingham Palace Garden Party next summer - pandemic permitting!