Bold move: As a retired stay-at-home grandmother, Barbara was searching for a way to make a difference when she founded the children’s clothing charity Rags to Riches in 2014. Inspired by her idol Lillian Weber who, at nearly 100 years of age, made one dress a day for African charities (“What a lady! And she is still going strong!”), Barbara started collecting unwanted fabrics and making clothes for needy children.
Work ethic: In her native England, Barbara started sewing at the age of seven, becoming a tailor at 15. Since them, she’s made everything from hats to armchairs. “At one point, the company I was working for won the contract to make the athletes tracksuits for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. It made me very proud to watch the opening ceremony and know that we had hidden messages of good luck in all the pockets!” Now, she’s using her skills to change lives, one stitch at a time. She recently took a trip to the Turkish border where she taught thirty Syrian mums to make clothes, bags, and baby quilts. “Success to me means children who now have nothing to wear, have something new to wear for the future.”
Future goals: With a 17-strong team making clothes for needy children across the Emirates, Rags to Riches has achieved so much since its inception two years ago – even gaining global recognition as far afield as the UK, USA and New Zealand. But Barbara has loftier ambitions “I want to create as many sewing circles as possible who can multiply many times what I can achieve, so instead of 100 garments a week, we achieve thousands.”
Be inspired: “It inspires me to know that these finished clothes will make many children warm and happy, and they will look good.”