Sheila’s Story

For a quarter of a century, Sheila has put her sewing skills to excellent use to hugely benefit both the patients we care for and the fundraising efforts of Rennie Grove Peace.

Sheila’s Story

The self-proclaimed ‘Bag Lady of Rennie Grove Peace

It was chance that led Sheila to volunteering with Rennie Grove Peace, or Iain Rennie Hospice at Home, as it was then. She was at World’s End Garden Centre and it so happened that a team from the charity was there, recruiting volunteers.  

Sheila signed up to volunteer in our Tring charity shop as well as volunteering her sewing skills to benefit the charity.  Having learned to sew after she left school in 1949, Sheila had become a dab hand with a sewing machine and knew her skills could be put to good use to raise funds. She started by sewing shopping bags to sell in the shop. 

However, it was through a visit to our Tring office that something a little more unusual was to unfold. 

Sheila says: 

When calling into the Tring office to deliver some bags, I met a member of the nursing team admin staff who asked me to look at the commercial black mesh bags that she was about to order as ‘driver bags’ for patients to carry around syringe drivers that dispense their medication. The bags cost £4 each at that time and she asked whether I could make them as we both agreed they seemed expensive and were not very pretty. 

“I made a sample one, to my own design, which was accepted and that pattern has been used ever since. I use suitable duvets from the shop and the only expense is the ‘velcro’ to seal the bag – that costs approximately 10p per bag.

“I have been making the bags for the shops for about 25 years and the driver bags for about 20 years.

“I do not think anyone else makes the driver bags for Rennie Grove Peace. I am sure I am the only one who makes these bags for our patients.” 

Sheila continues to make the driver bags to this day using the fabric of duvets and any other suitable items that are donated to our shops – recycling and creativity in combination. 

The bags cost little money to make but do take plenty of Sheila’s time. She has diligently continued with her work month on month; year on year. Now the total number of bags she has made will be in the thousands.

Given the nature of sewing, Sheila tends to work in batches to produce plenty of bags in a practical way – doing a batch of cutting, sewing and ironing of several at once. This allows her to make around 30 each month.  

Sheila now volunteers in the Wendover shop and has done so ever since it opened. She is there for two afternoons per week, her favourite job being the pricing and displaying of all the bric-a-brac, but she mucks in with the rest of the team on anything else needed too.  

“When the opportunity came, I moved to the Wendover shop and I am still volunteering there now as well as making bags to sell in the shop and continuing with the driver bags.” 

For all those decades of sewing and giving her time, there are countless patients who have benefited from the lovely bags that Sheila has made. Not to mention the members of the public who have bought her shopping bags from one of our charity shops.  

Sheila has even devised an instruction leaflet on how to create the driver bags, so that when she retires, the tradition can continue. And what a tradition it has become. 

Long may it continue, Sheila, and thank you for everything you have done so far!