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Facing up to the challenge

Mary Ahmad and her family have raised more than £800 for Martlets by making and selling stylish face coverings, made from Liberty fabrics. Mary tells us what inspired the project and how amazed she’s been at the positive response from the local community.

“Back in April, I could see there was going to be a point when we would have to wear masks. Or that people would want to wear them to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic. That’s when I remembered I had lots of lovely Liberty fabrics stored away. I thought I could use them to make face masks.

As a hobby I’d been sewing and dressmaking for years. I’d used lots of these lovely fabrics for different projects — for myself and my children and grandchildren. I’d kept all the off-cuts for years because the material was such good quality, and so expensive. I had the idea that one day when I retired I would make a patchwork project from them. I didn’t get round to it, so I still had a couple of drawers full of this material.

I got the bits of fabric out and went on to the internet. There were all sorts of patterns and ideas that people were promoting for making masks. That helped a lot. Not only did I get a pattern, but also a demonstration on Youtube on how to do it. There were different patterns and shapes, but I chose the simple pleated one like the surgical masks you see.

‘A family effort’

I got going and quite enjoyed making them. It wasn’t a difficult task, just time consuming. It’s been a family effort. My daughter Sophie and daughter-in-law Ann used their work and social contacts to sell them. They sent their contacts photos of the masks and the fabrics I had and then sent me through their orders. It was going to be quite a low-key thing, but it just took off because of people’s generosity and interest.

I eventually got to the point where people weren’t buying as many. Because suddenly there were masks everywhere and so many different types for people to chose from. So there was a natural stopping point. I made well over 100 in total and asked for £8 each. Some people were very generous and gave me more because they knew the money was going to Martlets. And others ordered in bulk for the same reason. They wanted to help raise as much money as possible for Martlets.

‘People’s reactions were amazing’

I used to be a physiotherapist so I have a great interest in healthcare and in supporting healthcare organisations. So many local people have been helped by Martlets and are appreciative of what they do. I knew Martlets didn’t have the usual big fundraising events going on because of the pandemic so I thought I’d help out a local charity. People’s reactions were amazing when I said I was selling the face masks for the Hospice. They all said ‘how many can I buy?’ when they knew it was in aid of Martlets. Nobody said they didn’t want one. It was an immediate response as Martlets is so highly thought of in this area.”