Jeanette Spurin, of hospice charity ellenor, was so upset by the number of disposable masks she saw abandoned in car parks and along roadsides during the pandemic that she decided to put her sewing skills to good use.
She said: “Making masks for ellenor kept me sane through lockdown. I just felt like I was making a difference. I was going into the hospice all the time to pick up the mail and I would see loads of disposable masks on the floor in the Morrisons car park across the road, which used to enrage me.
“I found a template for a washable mask online and first of all I made them for a friend, who sold them at her work in London, with the profits going to ellenor. Then I thought, why not sell them at the hospice itself? So far, they have raised £1025.70.”
All the money has gone to ellenor, where Jeanette works in the Finance Department. Materials for the project are funded from her own pocket and the masks are now popular items on the donation table at the Gravesend hospice.
"Until now, my machine had really just been used for sewing things like silly tutus to do the ellenor charity walks – I’m not really that good on the machine!”
Jeanette lives in Hartley with husband Barry, an engineer for Hovis, and son Liam, 25. Barry has often taken part in ellenor’s annual Twilight Walk with Jeanette, but she likes to take her fundraising to a whole new level. She has done the Walkathon for ellenor which is from Tower Bridge in London to the hospice, and she also raised money for Cancer Research by taking part in their Shine Night Walk.
She said: “None of this fundraising really happened until I started working for ellenor. In fact, some of the material I recently bought for the masks has a poppy design, so I have decided to sell those in aid of the Royal British Legion.”
Jeanette started at ellenor as a volunteer, following in the footsteps of mum Linda, who volunteered in the hospice cafe. After two years in a non-paid role, Jeanette joined the staff in 2016 and now works four days a week as Senior Finance Administrator.
She said: “My background was in finance, first as a credit controller for a cheese company, then I worked for a firm selling spectacles, where I was part of the management team. When I was made redundant from there, it felt really hard, especially as I wasn’t expecting it. I tried to find other work, but I had lost all my confidence, so I volunteered for Oxfam in New Ash Green.
“Through this I got my confidence back and applied for a volunteering role at ellenor. I carried on volunteering at Oxfam for a few years after I started at ellenor. To be honest, my volunteering roles saved my sanity.