An 80 year old woman dubbed a ‘local hero’ by friends has been making face masks for key workers

Sheila Mason from Kendal is currently furloughed (paid for leave of absence) from her part time job so she decided to spend her time helping her community.

Sheila began by supplying masks to her local doctors surgery, before providing masks for care homes, family, friends and neighbours.

“I was furloughed from work and I’m a craft worker,” she said.

“For the first two weeks I was busy in my house and in my garden and then the third week I heard on the radio about people making masks.

“I thought I’ll design one and start making them.”

She has now made over 570 masks by herself on her sewing machine at home.

Masks are free but Sheila has suggested customers donate to a charity of their choice.

“I didn’t want to charge for it because it’s just me doing my bit in the current situation,” she said.

Joan Fawcett, a friend of Sheila, said: “She’s an amazing lady, she wanted to do something to give back.

“She started making masks for Station House surgery so that people when they came in and were scared had something to put on.”

Joan revealed that her friend’s masks have gone as far north as Dundee and have travelled southwards beyond London.

“It’s become a labour of love for Sheila,” she said.

“Sheila will carry on until her task is completed.

“It’s people like Sheila that put the great in Great British.”

The community has helped Sheila’s mission by donating material to be used to make the masks with.

“People have donated bedding and curtains and all sorts of things, they’ve rallied round and leave things on her doorstep to use.

“She’s got this cottage industry going,” said Joan.

“It’s been great,” said Sheila.

“I had a lot of material to start with but then people started donating stuff.

“As soon as I get the fabric I wash it, I know people have probably already washed it.

“But I do it again to make sure there’s no germs, no virus.”

Residents of Sheila’s street have also showed their appreciation for all her hard work by gifting her flowers and ‘thank you’ cards.

“People have been very kind,” added Sheila.

“It’s been a very interesting experience.

“I’ve been in lockdown for nine weeks now so it’s been great, it’s kept me sane.”