REFRESHER lessons were in order for a Thornbury teacher who decided to take up needlework for charity.

After learning about designing handmade bags, Sue Dunn, 60, decided to dig out her 40-year-old sewing machine, which had been gathering dust in the depths of her attic, and put her knew theoretical skills into practice for Rope.

The Christian international relief and development organisation based in Buckinghamshire was set up 20 years ago and is dedicated to improving the lives of those in need across the globe.

The part-time French and German teacher, who attends Thornbury Baptist Church, said: "I’ve had more time on my hands in the last two years due to my work schedule slowing down and I was praying about what I should do next and what God wanted me to do with my life.

"I wanted to do something to help the poor but knew I couldn’t abandon my husband and go to the jungle for six months, and I’ve also had some health problems.

"I was looking on the Internet and saw a book about making handmade bags. I bought it and thought that this was the perfect thing for me to do. I could sell the bags and raise money for Rope."

The sewing machine was a 21st-birthday gift. It was soon relegated to the loft. "I’d not used the sewing machine since my children were little and they’re grown up now," she added. "But I dusted it down and it seems in great condition. I can’t believe I’m using the old thing but it’s doing the job so I’ve got no plans to replace it.

"I’ve made bags and bunting for Christmas and for children and although I’m not exceptionally gifted, I get good feedback and people seem to like them."

Over the past two years, Sue has raised more than £1,300 for Rope, helping to train former prostitutes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in dress making and tailoring.

"It’s remarkable that the items I sell are helping women at the other side of the world learn trades such as sewing," Sue said. " It’s only a little thing but hopefully it can make a real difference to broken lives."

To find out more about the charity visit