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Sudbury glass artist launches community gifting scheme to lift spirits of people isolated by coronavirus lockdown




Determined to lift people’s spirits during the coronavirus lockdown, Sudbury glass artist Gail Hatley decided to launch a community scheme.

The online initiative saw individuals, who had been nominated by their loved-ones, receive a fused glass gift, which Mrs Hatley crafted by hand from her home studio in York Road.

“I used to be a training volunteer manager for Age UK, so I had that desire to want to help people,” said the 56-year-old, who gifted the items as a kind gesture.

Potters and Friends Spring Exhibition at Little Hall in Lavenham..Pictured: Gail Hatley with her work 'Gail's Glass'...PICTURE: Mecha Morton.... (34960920)
Potters and Friends Spring Exhibition at Little Hall in Lavenham..Pictured: Gail Hatley with her work 'Gail's Glass'...PICTURE: Mecha Morton.... (34960920)

Having elderly parents, Mrs Hatley said she could relate to the challenging circumstances that individuals have been forced to face during lockdown, which prompted her to establish the initiative.

“I knew what it was like,” she said. “So it was something that I really wanted to do.”

With the help of husband, Kevin, Mrs Hatley hand-delivered the gifts, which contained a personal message from the recipients’ loved-ones.

Reading the reasons why individuals had been nominated by their family or friend was extremely moving.

“I didn’t want anything in return,” said Mrs Hatley. “I just wanted to make people happy; some of the messages made me cry.”

The wife of a police inspector nominated her husband as a recipient because she knew how challenging his role had become during the crisis.

“She had said how difficult he was finding it, which was why he deserved something special,” said Mrs Hatley.

Initially, the gifts had been intended for vulnerable or elderly people, but, after receiving further requests, she was happy to extend the scheme to other deserving individuals, which included key workers and carers.

While the art galleries – where Mrs Hatley usually showcases her art work – remain closed, she has put her free time to good use by focusing on other projects from her home studio.

She was recently commissioned to create a large rainbow glass panel accompanied by 16 individual designs, which were sent as a gift to thank staff from the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust tackling Covid-19 at Ipswich Hospital.

Reflecting on the project, Mrs Hatley said: “I was really pleased to be given that opportunity.”

Due to the current pandemic, Mrs Hatley has had to cancel a number of workshops at her art studio, which she plans to reschedule once it is deemed safe to stage such events.

Meanwhile, she is looking forward to experimenting with new methods, including the technique of lost wax carving.

Mrs Hatley added: “I have had time to think about what direction I’m going in.”

For more information, go online to www.gailhatley.com.


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