Kettering crafter backs Corby hospice with facemasks fundraiser in memory of 'lovely' neighbour

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Elaine wanted to do something to help the hospice where her friend had received care

A Kettering woman has been 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 Ashby, a mobile hairdresser, wanted to honour her King Street friend Alan Slow, by making and asking for donations for her lovingly crafted homemade masks.

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Since starting her sewing marathon, Elaine has raised more than £3,000 for Lakelands Hospice using her crocheting and stitching expertise by making face coverings and asking for donations.

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.

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"I hadn't been charging people, just asking for donations, then Alan died. He knew I had already raised £1,500 and now that's more than doubled."

Elaine AshbyElaine Ashby
Elaine Ashby

With Elaine's usual hairdressing work on hold, she has 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."

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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.

Friends: Alan and Elaine at LakelandsFriends: Alan and Elaine at Lakelands
Friends: Alan and Elaine at Lakelands

She added: "We are getting in orders every day. 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. I am hoping to hit the £5,000 mark to help their nurses.

"Without them people wouldn't get this care. "

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.

Some of the thousand facemasks made by Elaine and her friendsSome of the thousand facemasks made by Elaine and her friends
Some of the thousand facemasks made by Elaine and her friends
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