Dawn Millward knows a thing or two about raising a family in Ashbourne – her 10 children have all grown up in the town. In the first of a new series of columns, she talks about life in the town for a big family, the issues she faces and what she does to overcome them.
This week Dawn discusses ways to pick up children’s clothing in Ashbourne - without breaking the bank.
YEARS ago I took part in the bridge jump, twice. The first time I sat on the bridge parapet, I glanced at the crowds and the river and had a sudden reality strike when I realised how high I was or how far away the river was.
I slid off the bridge, went much further below the river surface than expected, surfaced and made my way to the side.
For the second bridge jump, I climbed on to the bridge and immediately jumped off. Writing this first article is the same feeling - so I have decided to jump in and hope.
This will hopefully be a weekly article by an ordinary almost Ashburnian, a professional mum (my husband’s words) of 10 children.
Yes we are one family. We have a TV, a sense of humour and a sizeable Aldi food bill each fortnight.
My column will be based on my every day life, life experiences past and present, maybe a few words referring to the lessons I have learnt and how those experiences have created our lives and immediate world as is now.
The constant ups and downs, the losses, the many gains, the many hurdles, the barriers we meet, the impact it has on us as a family and as individual family members.
Each day brings new, old and on-going challenges to a working family, and it’s about how we can find ways around the challenges.
This is how the article came into being - very simply, charity shops.
I was going to collect a dress for our two-year-old, Dolly when I met a lady I know. Gina was wearing a stunning long-sleeved, mainly white light cotton dress, with green and red ribbons crossing around the bodice to make an abstract pattern. Gina looked stunning and I stopped to comment on how well the dress suited her. Gina’s reply after smiling was that it was from a charity shop.
This led to the subject of a Facebook site called Ashbourne Sell it Swap it Ggive it, which started about a year ago and was the original idea of Helen Lyons, Lisa and Mitch padley.
It’s a volunteer-run group with 4,000 members. People list items for sale or wanted items or those to be given away.
Children's clothes, especially baby clothes, are abundant, often unused, as a bundle of several items of baby clothes, or simply lovely condition and realistically priced.
Baby equipment, furniture, plants, fridges, cookers, toys - the listings are as diverse as any listed ad section of a newspaper.
Members often ask for recommendations. For example, hair dressers; (I always recommend Holly Brown, despite her being an Up'ard) gardeners; car mechanics; local restaurants and charity events are often listed. The waterslide idea started here.
Helen, Lisa and Mitch have created a small community that has grown within in a year meeting the economic needs of many people.
It is, for many people, a way of buying everyday essentials, being able to create a home and clothing their children.
When our eldest daughter Jess started school we went to Marks and Spencers to buy uniform. This was before computers and internet shopping, before mobile phones, prior to supermarkets offering uniform, prior to charity shops.
I used to enjoy and still enjoy shopping for our children's school uniform. Spending the day in Derby, eating out, the children would be carrying bags with new Clarks shoes, M&S bags with new shirts, jumpers, new white knee-length socks, and a new school year wasn't complete without stationery - and a new bag to put everything safely in.
Now we go to the Clarks shoe shop in Uttoxeter, shop online as much as possible, visiting Asda for the remainder.
Many school items can only be purchased through school or, for QEGS, via the Trutex webiste. Years ago Trutex meant quality. Your son or daughter would still be wearing the same blazer from year seven to year 10, providing he or she didn't come home with the arm or pockets ripped off, or said blazer being completely ripped in half along the vertical seam at the back.
A blazer could be purchased more cheaply elsewhere and the QEGS badge sewn on. When we were at school a Trutex blazer, fitted from first to fifth year, it was sent to Sketchleys on occasion as it was dry-clean only (I on the other hand have the motto, if it fits in the washing machine, its washed, dry-clean or not) and after five years daily term-time use, still had sleeves, pockets, original buttons and hadn't worn out.
Times have changed in a relatively short space of time. Ashbourne has changed and will change in the future years - even in the coming months if Aldi comes to town.
Do you think they might sell school blazers ?