A HUGE thank you to Lakelands fundraiser Elaine Ashby who worked tirelessly during lockdown (and after) putting her crafting skills to use to help stop the spread of the coronavirus and pay tribute to the hospice that helped her late neighbour.
Elaine, a mobile hairdresser, wanted to honour her friend Alan Slow, by making and asking for donations for her lovingly crafted homemade masks.
She said: "Alan was a lovely and generous man. He always said that he took me on as an extra daughter.
"He had COPD and went to Lakelands for a ten-week course and he absolutely loved it, especially the social aspect.
"I had been making masks and bags headbands and crochet ear savers for KGH and NHS frontline heroes as well as care workers, schools, care homes and friends.
With Elaine's usual hairdressing work on hold, she devoted all her lockdown hours sewing with most days spending 12 or more hours in her craft room with husband Dave providing regular cups of tea. She said: "Dave has been cooking for us for the past few weeks and bringing me tea. It's a few weeks of my life that I can give to help other people. I can go back to work and know that I've done my bit.
"People need these masks so they can go back to work, to protect other people. They are not proper PPE but they are 100 per cent cotton so they can be washed at 60 degrees."
Elaine, 52, has recruited two other crafters to her cause - Maureen Burke and Tracy Folwell - who between them have made more than 1,000 masks for schools, companies, care homes and individuals.
She added: "Orders were coming in on a daily basis, I spend all the time either cutting out or sewing and quite often work until midnight but it's good therapy and a way I can pay tribute to Alan.
"With the lockdown Lakelands can't hold their usual fundraising events so I am happy to help. "When I started this, I hoped to make £200 to £300. I'd made about £1,600 worth when Maureen and Tracy joined in.
"Maureen has been on furlough and has been shielding and she's a professional machinist. She's used to doing piecework and does a hundred at a time. Without her I wouldn't have got this far."
She said: "I've had to extend the deadline twice and increased the target four times.
Lakelands Hospice provides care, free of charge for people in Corby and the surrounding villages, living with life-limiting illnesses such as cancer, COPD, MS and advanced heart failure. It does not receive any government or NHS funding and relies totally on charitable donations and fundraising events, "Without them people wouldn't get this care. "
I was blown away by all the generous donations of money and materials to make more masks. Demand grew, so much that my friend Maureen Burke offered to step in to help me. I want to say a massive thank you to her for helping me achieve this wonderful amount raised.
Elaine and Maureen raised an incredible £11,000.00. Wow what an amazing achievement.
Thank you for all the time and commitment to Lakelands.