Brooch bouquets help charity funds blossom

Sheila Sortwell with one of her brooch bouquets. (DER2607SJ770)
Sheila Sortwell with one of her brooch bouquets. (DER2607SJ770)

A creative Greysteel florist is transforming old brooches into bridal bouquets to boost funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Sheila Sortwell began making the alternative arrangements after stumbling across some old brooches belonging to her 73-year-old mum, Eileen Campbell, who has Alzheimer’s disease. She’s appealing for any unwanted brooches and jewellery to create more bouquets and raise £1,200 as part of a Target Twelve Hundred challenge for the charity.

Sheila’s arrangements can incorporate anything from ribbon roses and decorative pearls to a mother’s wedding ring, or a scrap of sentimental fabric. They also last, meaning they can be kept as a memento of a couple’s big day.

Sheila, also a holistic therapist, explained her mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2008, and the family made the heartbreaking decision to place Eileen in care in June 2010.

“My dad, who had emphysema and was on oxygen 24/7, was heartbroken and felt he had lost the love of his life. He literally gave up on life and passed away in September 2010. Alzheimer’s stole my family and tore us apart. Now I want to do all I can to help the dementia research experts, Alzheimer’s Research UK,” said Sheila, who said when she found her mum’s old brooches she didn’t want to throw them in a drawer. With a bit of inspiration from ‘You Tube’ Sheila made her first brooch bouquet which she keeps with her mum’s wedding ring.

“This made me think there are probably people out there who would love to donate brooches, which I can turn into unique pieces of emotional art and, when I read about the charity’s Target Twelve Hundred challenge, to raise £1,200 in a year, I felt it was the perfect combination. I hope the sentimental and emotional nature of the idea will touch people’s hearts. They could even include a story or photo of their donated brooch being worn to make their contribution even more personal. Together, I really hope we can raise much-needed funds for vital dementia research.”

Parminder Summon, Community Fundraising Manager for Alzheimer’s Research UK, said it was delighted with Sheila’s efforts and her Target Twelve Hundred will pay for 60 hours of pioneering dementia research.

Brooches and old jewellery can be dropped off at or sent to, the Roe Valley Arts & Cultural Centre. For information email Sheila at or to help her raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK, donate online at