West Lancashire are undeterred by cancelled fundraisers as they donate PPE to workers on the frontline

Monday, 01 June 2020

Jim Corcoran, a member of the Lodge of Harmony No. 220 in the Woolton and Garston Group of West Lancashire Freemasons, had been collecting, for many months at his own expense, sporting memorabilia to auction, raffle or sell at the fundraising event which should have been held at Liverpool Football Stadium at the beginning of May this year

As a result of the of the current dreadful situation in which we find ourselves, many functions which were planned, had to be cancelled. The planned fundraiser benefitting the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemasons' Charity, was one that was cancelled.

Jim would unashamedly use the avenues available to him to get the players of Liverpool FC to sign shirts, footballs and anything else that would raise money to support the Freemasons' charity. As a result of this cancellation, it was realised that some of the memorabilia would be outdated by the time the rearranged function took place. It is anticipated that the event will take place in mid-February 2021 depending on the availability of the venue when next year's Liverpool FC fixtures are announced in July. The stadium is only available on a day when the team are playing an away game.

For some years Jim has been helping a lady in Runcorn who does a lot of work in her local community, Suzanne Parkes. She asked him to help her start a scheme to make much needed personal protection equipment for local hospitals, hospices and other medical centres. 

Having already auctioned some of his collection online, Jim kindly decided that he would donate the rest to the scheme and they were able to raise enough funds to make the necessary purchases to start making the equipment. The raffles held and Jim's online income raised £2,800 and production commenced with 11 voluntary machinists. They named themselves the Runcorn Sews Scrubs.

Eventually, Suzanne also received a grant from the West Lancashire Freemasons' Charity with which she was absolutely delighted. She was the able to recruit up to 75 ladies who worked at home on different aspects of the production.

Some local suppliers also donated cloth to make this equipment. The 75 machinists started making scrubs, scrub caps, scrub bags, theatre gowns and theatre hats.

Jim, despite the lockdown, started delivering the equipment to Warrington and Whiston hospitals, to local hospices and to the Walton Centre. He even had requests for scrubs from as far away as Leicester. They were eventually able to recruit some local volunteers to help with the deliveries.

Eventually, the machinists provided over 450 sets of high-quality scrubs and scrub caps, 250 theatre gowns and around 50 sets to various smaller units where they were required. Most of the sets provided were inscribed with West Lancashire Freemasons. Others featured the Liverpool FC badge.

After the latest government statement on the easing of lockdown, a number of the volunteers returned to normal working duties so the output was reduced. Another outcome of this operation was opportunity for members of the team to learn how to sew. Some volunteers were disabled and were very happy to take part in this venture. 

Work has continued on the equipment and it is hoped that their new skills will eventually help them to gain permanent employment. The only outgoings during this scheme were for cloth, thread, fuel for delivering scrubs etc. and payment for essential maintenance on some of the sewing machines.

Unfortunately, Jim is unable to get memorabilia signed whilst the players (and he) are in lockdown so raffles are currently on-hold.

Recipients of the PPE equipment have been absolutely delighted with the sets that have been donated by Freemasons in West Lancashire and with the hard work of the volunteers that have worked hard to make sure our key workers are safe.

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