Having moved into her brand new apartment on the first day of lockdown, retiree Ann Symons decided to put her spare time and sewing skills to good use by making nearly 80 cotton facemasks, helping to raise money for local charity Talk It Out by offering them out in return for donations from her new neighbours at Goodwin Lodge in Deal.
Within a couple of weeks of my being here, it became evident that the whole country required face masks," Ann explains. "But the problem was the paucity of them, as those available were seriously needed by the medical profession. I looked online and found a design for fabric masks and began making prototypes. Shortly after this, Garry our Lodge Manager suggested the idea of making a few for the other Owners at the Lodge, and so my new project was born.
At the last count, Ann had made a total of 78 masks in three different designs and two sizes, which Garry helped distribute in return for charity donations. "They have sold well," she says. "And the whole of the proceeds will be donated to Talk It Out, which is a charity the Lodge has supported before."
Based in Deal, Talk It Out is a social support self-funded group for local adults with mental health problems and their carers. The charity's founder Tracy Carr said: "I'd like to say a big thank you to Ann and the community at Goodwin Lodge for all their support. It's been a very tough time for so many people and our services are very much in demand, so donations like this are a huge help."
Ann is ready to spring into action again if more masks are needed. In the meantime she is continuing with her other interests, which include books, music, patchwork, quilting, and painting. "Even in lockdown where there were never enough hours in the day," she says. "And as we see some restrictions being lifted the time just seems to disappear...or is that me disappearing to the beach?!"
Looking back on her move Ann reflects on the difficulties encountered and the helping hand she received from Churchill. "On 25th March I felt like the luckiest person in the country,” she says. “Although I was sadly leaving behind our beloved coastal home of over 20 years, I was so grateful my move had gone ahead despite it being the first day of lockdown. With only a third of my furniture left in my old chalet bungalow, as I had found new homes for the rest, I would have really rattled round and my hopes would have been dashed. Churchill’s Sales Executive Lorraine worked very hard to find a stand-in removal company who could move me in safely, and eventually I arrived at Goodwin Lodge and my wonderful second floor apartment.”
The last six months have been difficult and challenging,” she adds. “But I have again learnt much and met some great people. I am sure that the Owners here will be grateful to at least journey to a new normal, even if we cannot totally return to our previous way of living. Perhaps we need to look at the bigger picture to realise that change can give us time to re-evaluate our lives and count our blessings.
For now, Ann can be proud that her sewing talents have brought benefits for everyone.