Ferndown, Health, Latest News | Posted: Monday, April 20th, 2020 at 3:06 pm | return to news

Stepping up with facemasks to help in a crisis

By Janine Pulford

Local residents unable to purchase facemasks due to the worldwide shortage created by the coronavirus pandemic have been thrown a lifeline in Ferndown.

Chris demonstrates the finished mask
Chris demonstrates the finished mask

Former teacher, Chris Adams, who loves sewing, joined the Ferndown Community Coronavirus Support Group on Facebook after realising she had to do something to help those who needed some sort of barrier around their faces. After researching how to make a facemask, she appealed to the public for material and was overwhelmed by donations from local residents. It wasn’t long before she was cutting out and sewing masks together.

Once completed, they were offered free to anyone who wanted one and the requests came pouring in. Sixty facemasks later, Chris realised she couldn’t keep up with the demand.

“I appealed for helpers and now 14 of us work on masks and hairbands  including 16-year-old Bexi (who is in her GCSE year so now twiddling her thumbs) and her mother who work in a relay.


Diverse Abilities


Diverse Abilities

Helpful hands Bex (16)
Helpful hands Bex (16)

“It’s all about keeping fingers busy during lockdown,” said Chris. “One of our sewers is making a different sort of mask support.  By sewing buttons on both ends of a length of elastic you can the hook the mask elastic over the buttons. She prefers to do this by hand because it gives her a sense of purpose. These are particularly useful for male nurses. We are extremely grateful for the support given by all of these wonderful ladies.

“The hairbands are for anyone who has to wear a mask for a long time,” she explained. “It takes the weight of the elastic off their ears and prevents them becoming sore.”

Chris and her team have now distributed over 300 facemasks and 160 hairbands to grateful customers including domiciliary workers, a children’s ICU unit, NHS trauma teams, care homes and local shops.

Although Chris does not claim to be making medical-grade masks, she is helping many adults who want to wear masks, especially if they feel vulnerable without one – and she makes them for babies and children too. The construction of the mask is carried out following her research.

Maisy Mooney (15) and Mum Sarah are also making masks and headbands
Maisy Mooney (15) and Mum Sarah are also making masks and headbands

“We use material made from cotton on the outside,” she explained. “We then iron on Vilene to stiffen the mask and add another layer of protection, inside we sew a second layer made from flannelette, the masks are finished with elastic to keep them tightly in place.”

Before leaving the premises, all the masks are sterilised in a steamer for 20 minutes and can be washed and re-sterilised after use.

The team’s reputation has grown rapidly and as well as local people donating materials, cash donations from local businesses have also been made.

Chris said, “We can’t thank people enough. The response to our appeals has been overwhelming.

“The masks are still free, but due to the quantity being made now, we do ask for a donation if possible. If not, then that’s good. It doesn’t matter. We just want to keep people safe and for those who need a mask to have one.”

If you would like a mask, or want to donate materials, (lightweight cotton items such as duvet covers, sheets, fabric fat quarters and flannelette are required at the moment), then please contact Chris Adams through the Ferndown Community Coronavirus Support Group. This is hard to find as you will be redirected to the Coronavirus Information Centre so do feel free to contact the writer of this article on 07910 680986 and she will ask Chris to get in touch. Please be ready with an email address if possible.

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