Shropshire company makes finals of national recycling awards

A Shropshire company, which turns once-loved jumpers into beautiful accessories to be enjoyed all over again, has been nominated for a top national award.

Turtle Doves, based in Shrewsbury, has reached the finals of the National Recycling Awards 2013, which recognizes excellence in all parts of the waste and resource management industry.

Kate Holbrook founded her company in 2009 by turning unsellable jumpers from charity shops into wrist warmers, named Turtle Doves.

Her work soon branched out to include Hugs, a versatile wrap of patchwork jumpers, which can be worn in many different ways. The product range now also includes hats, scarves, snoods and blankets.

Turtle Doves has been nominated in the Retail Recycler of the Year and Best Recycled Product categories.

For the next stage, which takes place in mid-April, a panel of industry experts will examine Mrs Holbrook’s business.

She will then find out if she has won the coveted prize at a glittering awards ceremony at the London Hilton Hotel, Park Lane on July 3, which will be attended by more than 1,100 waste and recycling professionals.

“I am really thrilled to be recognised for a National Recycling Award,” she said.

“It really gives a stamp of authority to what we are doing. It is so important to me to have an ethical and environmentally friendly business.

“It makes sense to reuse wherever possible; so many things that we get rid of have plenty of life left in them really.”

“We buy many of our jumpers from charity shops.

They are often the ones that can’t be sold for whatever reason and we turn them into beautiful, unique pieces of clothing.

“We make a huge effort to use up as much of every jumper as possible. Each jumper is washed and de-fuzzed as necessary so it’s ready to be worn again.”

“If there is any of the jumper left, it’s given back to a charity shop to be sold on to the waste trade for rags.

“By sourcing our material in this way, we have given more than £9,000 to charity just by running our business.”

Mrs Holbrook said she also loves the fact that the items she makes are full of history and memories.

“It’s not only recycling the material but also breathing new life into the clothes, which would otherwise likely end up in landfill,” she said. “Typically every jumper will be used in at least three different products. A long cardigan might make four pairs of Turtle Doves, five scarf pieces and several heart appliques for Hugs.”

The recycled nature of the product means the accessories are unique.

“Our Turtle Doves come in all the colours of the rainbow and make a great eco present and they also come in stylish recycled packaging.”

“We also make cashmere Turtle Doves. Second-hand cashmere is pretty hard to get hold of so we offer a service where if people send us their old cashmere jumper, we will make them a free pair of Turtle Doves from it.”

Mrs Holbrook started making patchwork blankets in 2013 to use up some of the chunkier jumpers.

“They make really lovely throws to snuggle under and we have a great range for children’s prams and beds.”

“We really try not to let anything go to waste” she said.

“We’re always thinking about new ways of using our fabric to fulfill it’s full potential.”

Turtle Doves can be found at a variety of markets around the county, including ‘Made in Shropshire’ markets based in Ludlow and Shrewsbury and also Telford Farmer’s Market.

The products are also available to buy through the website at, where you will also find a video about how to wear the hug.