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Billy Connolly inspires crazy sewing lady

Posted at 11:22am Monday 14 Sep, 2020

Jenny Bartlett, centre, with dozens of aprons she has made for the Parkinson’s Tulip Cream Tea events. Pictured with Sandra Ewing, left, and Trish Collen of the Stitch & Yarn sewing group.
Jenny Bartlett, centre, with dozens of aprons she has made for the Parkinson's Tulip Cream Tea events. Pictured with Sandra Ewing, left, and Trish Collen of the Stitch & Yarn sewing group.

When Parkinson's New Zealand was looking for people to make aprons to sell at their upcoming upmarket Tulip Cream Tea events, they couldn't have found anyone better than Snells Beach's “Crazy Sewing Lady”.

Jenny Bartlett set to work with her sewing machine and within a month had produced about 100 aprons.

Jenny, who regularly gets her head shaved to support leukaemia sufferers, is a great believer in sewing for charitable causes.

“I don't charge for anything I do on principle, really. I just sew things to give away,” she says.

She adds that being a well-known “fabric-o-holic”, she never has any trouble sourcing material, saying people keep donating it and leaving it on her doorstep.

Jenny is a big fan of comedian Sir Billy Connolly, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2013, and says his condition has spurred her on with making the aprons.

“His is very physical comedy, and it just seems ironic that he's going to develop that restricted muscle movement and blank face when he has always been so expressive. That's the cruelty of it,” she says.

Sir Billy announced his retirement from doing stand-up comedy in March this year.  

In addition to her efforts on behalf of Parkinson's, Jenny has also been sewing Covid-19 face masks, which she leaves in a container by her letterbox for anybody to help themselves.

Jenny also runs the informal Stitch & Yarn sewing group, which meets at the Mahurangi East Community Centre on the first and third Tuesday mornings of the month.

She says there are a lot of women in the community who enjoy having company and like to join something where there are not a lot of obligations and where there is no need to serve on a committee.        

Info: Jenny Bartlett, crazysewinglady47@gmail.com


Lavish cream tea event to raise money for Parkinson's

Parkinson's New Zealand will host a series of Tulip Cream Tea fundraising events around the country this Spring, with the highlight taking place in Matakana on October 16.

Parkinson's community engagement manager Karen Schade says the garden party to be held at Matakana Botanicals will feature “grazing tables” with a huge range of sweet and savoury delights.

“Thanks to the support of businesses, we have been able to keep the price very reasonable, so our community can enjoy a quality afternoon out with friends in support of a great cause,” she says.

Attendees will be able to sip on a Red Tulip cocktail, designed for the occasion by Vintry bar manager Justin Fokkema, plus a range of local wines and beers, while listening to live jazz.

There will also be a tea sampling station and Jon Houldsworth, from Dilmah NZ, will give a short talk on the history and culture of tea.

Several hampers will be raffled and attendees will have the opportunity to purchase aprons made by Parkinson's national team of volunteer sewers.

Karen says many Parkinson's sufferers will be attending.

“It's a condition where many people who have it hide away because it's so debilitating, but we want to break down those barriers,” she says.

Money raised during the event will be spent locally to fund community nurses, Parkinson's support groups and exercise classes.    

Tickets are $55 from iTICKET.

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