Volunteers make and distribute more than 2,000 masks

A small army of volunteers in Loddiswell have sewn and distributed more than 2,000 face masks since coronavirus turned the world upside down. 

A selection of their face masks 

Alison Seldon and Jenny Field came together at the beginning of April, before national lockdown was announced, to ensure than anyone who needed a mask could get one. 
"Jenny already has a sewing business", explained Alison, "so we got together 'virtually' and started sharing templates for the masks."
Money-wise, Alison contacted Devon County Councillor Rufus Gilbert, who gave them £250 from his locality budget, and the Loddiswell Parish Council, who gave them another £250. This meant they could go ahead and buy material, elastic, pipe cleaners and everything else they needed to make the masks. Then all they needed were people to help make them. Jenny had a couple of sewing friends who stepped in, and a post on Facebook brought in another 20 people who offered their time for free. Loddiswell Face Masks was born.
Loddiswell Face Masks was born

Devon County Councillor Rufus Gilbert

It wasn't long before Alison and Jenny were using their one walk a day exercise to drop masks, fabric, templates and other supplies all around the village, often hanging carrier bags on people's gates to avoid contact. 
"We were so lucky we had good weather", Alison said, "I often had six bags hanging on my gate for people to pick up on the way past!"
I often had six bags hanging on my gate for people to pick up on the way past!
The project quickly got a waiting list, and as they were created by volunteers for free, they were given for free to those in the village who needed or wanted one. In order to keep up with demand, they started an online crowdfunder and raised £1,300. A donation of £250 also came from Tesco in Kingsbridge and an extra £475 donation from the Loddiswell Parish Council Covid-19 Action Fund meant that the team could stay solvent for a while. 

Face masks, supplies and orders

"I think masks are going to carry on as a need for a long time to come", Alison continued, "so this means we can keep going and keep providing masks to those who need them." 
I think masks are going to carry on as a need for a long time to come
With extra money came extra responsibility and so they reached out to Marilyn Hall, the treasurer at the Loddiswell Village Hall and Playing Fields Trust who agreed to ask as Loddiswell Face Masks' treasurer too and meant all their account and invoices were traceable and accountable. 

Childrens' face masks are available too

Then came the next phase. Alison explained: "We had provided a lot of masks to people in Loddiswell so we decided to widen the net and expanded to be South Hams Face Masks, we now have 14 sewers in different villages and we're able to connect people with their own sewers in Ivybridge, Kingsbridge and Chillington."
we're able to connect people with their own sewers in Ivybridge, Kingsbridge and Chillington
Three weeks ago, the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital put out a call for masks so the team saw another opportunity to help out. They contacted South Hams Hospital and Norton Brook Medical Centre in Kingsbridge and asked if they were in need of masks too. Since they have to supply masks to anyone who comes to them without one, they jumped at the chance and South Hams Face Masks are now supplying both locations with homemade, volunteer sewn masks. 

South Hams Face Masks now supply South Hams Hospital

All together, the team have provided more than 2,100 masks to those in the local area. 
All together, the team have provided more than 2,100 masks to those in the local area
When asked if there was anyone in particular that needed recognition for their part in the scheme, Alison said it was "really hard to choose individual people" but said that they couldn't have done it without Cornelia Davies, who was with them from the start. "She couldn't sew but she took on all the organisation", Alison said, "she set up the email and kept the orders and waiting lists. She could make sure all the orders were fulfilled. One of the nice things about this project is we all played to our strengths and came together as a team."
 One of the nice things about this project is we all played to our strengths and came together as a team
She also gave a shout out to all the delivery volunteers, Sarah Scott and Pip Harris especially, who picked up the masks and delivered them through people's letterboxes. She also said that Peter and Hazel Wren took up the mantel to be the single pick-up place and now have a table in their garden for the masks. 

Some of their happy customers!


If you are still in need of a mask, and remember they become compulsory in shops from tomorrow, Friday 24th of July, you can contact Peter Wren by email: peterwren@hotmail.co.uk. If you think you can help them out with your sewing skills, they have lost a number who have gone back to work as lockdown has lifted, so contact the team on loddiswellfacemasks@gmail.com. All you need is a sewing machine and to be able to sew to a "reasonable standard". 
South Hams Face Masks are one of the great examples of how people in our small community can really pull together for the greater good in times of crisis and worry. True South Hams Lockdown Heroes. 
True South Hams Lockdown Heroes

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