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TMF LOCKDOWN HEROES: Nimble-fingered mum makes lipreading masks

TMF LOCKDOWN HEROES: Nimble-fingered mum makes lipreading masks

Friday 12 June 2020

TMF LOCKDOWN HEROES: Nimble-fingered mum makes lipreading masks

A crafty mum has been named a ‘lockdown hero’ finalist, after teaching herself to sew laundry bags for hospital staff and making hundreds of cloth masks for schools - including some with 'windows' for lipreading.

The TMF Lockdown Hero Awards were launched by TMF Group in partnership with Bailiwick Express to say thank you to the heroes of the health crisis and celebrate the many local acts of kindness that have kept the island going at a difficult time.

Nominations have flooded in since the awards were launched, and now a panel has whittled all the stories of “ordinary people during extraordinary things” down to a shortlist of just three entries.

Express will be sharing their stories each day before the public gets to decide which of the three shortlisted heroes should win the top £500 cash prize.

The second finalist is Karen Spurr, who taught herself how to sew cloth masks for the local community...


Pictured: Karen created a total of 450 masks.

While she is “quite crafty” according to her daughter, Jodie, who nominated her, Karen normally works on reupholstering furniture.

However, during lockdown, she learned how to use her sewing machine to make face masks for frontline workers - 250 of which she created on her own.

With Jodie's husband, her son and his partner all being teachers, Karen got the idea of creating masks for staff in local primary schools.


Pictured: Inspired by the teachers in her family, Karen decided to make the masks for school staff.

In total, she provided the face coverings for six different schools and even roped her friends in to help her.

“She taught them what to do via video,” Jodie explained. “They would cut the material/elastics or sew the material to help cut her work hours down which allowed a total of 450 face masks in total to be made.”

After she was contacted by one of her friends who is deaf and explained she couldn’t read her family’s lips when they were wearing a cloth mask, Karen researched how to make a suitable mask.

She found an example with a plastic covering that would allow her friend to lip read and created similar ones for her and her family. 


Pictured: Karen was nominated by her daughter.

Jodie also said Karen has sent masks to her friends in Holland.

In addition to the masks, Karen made 40 laundry bags for the staff on Sorel Ward at the hospital, which she delivered in just two days.

The bags allow nurses and doctors to put their uniform away safely when they finish their shift. Once the bag is closed, they can then take it home and put it in the washing machine without having to touch their uniform again.


Pictured: Karen sawed over 40 bags for hospital staff.

Karen's daughter explained that she funded all the materials herself, turning down several donations, despite having only a little income.

“She refused to take money,” Jodie said. She paid all of it of her own back with her own money.

“She was kindly donated some materials and elastic from friends and family to help her but she purchased a lot of materials herself.” 

Karen Spurr lockdown hero

Pictured: Karen did so much sewing her machine broke down.

“She did so much sewing that her sewing machine actually ended up breaking!” Jodie added.

“I thought she deserved a bit of recognition. She has done well, bless her.

“I was not expecting to hear back [about the TMF Lockdown Heroes] - a lot of people have done brilliant things. Everyone has been coming together as a community.”


Pictured: Michaela Harrison-Gray, Director, Head of Trusts and Corporate at TMF Jersey. 

Michaela Harrison-Gray, Director, Head of Trusts and Corporate at TMF Jersey, said: “All of those nominated stepped up to help others in their community during this challenging and often distressing period. There were many examples of kindness, selflessness and innovation, with ordinary people doing extraordinary things to help those in need or keep people’s spirits up." 

Michaela added: “TMF Group are delighted to have supported this initiative. It’s great to be able to recognise and thank those islanders that made others’ lives easier during this difficult time.”

If you think Karen should be crowned the TMF Lockdown Hero, look out for a poll on Express in the next few days to cast your vote.


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