Earby sisters turn living rooms into sewing factories to produce thousands of face masks

Two selfless sisters who started making free face masks for friends and family at the start of lockdown have seen their "cottage industry" escalate into a mass production line - with thousands now made for hospitals, churches and care homes across the area.

Helen Watson and Wendy Metcalfe from Earby have converted their living rooms turned into "sewing factories" after seeing demand for their homemade face maks rocket in recent weeks.

Helen (57) explained that a grant from North Yorkshire County Council initially helped the sisters buy material from a shop in Skipton, to be sold locally there, but grateful recipients now include Pendleside Hospice, St James' Hospital in Leeds and even people in America.

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She said: "We started making the masks at the end of March. We made a few to give to friends and family and then more and more people started asking if we could make them some.

Wendy and Helen

"I then found out about a COVID grant from North Yorkshire County Council which could be used in the community. I later posted what we'd been doing on some local Facebook pages around Pendle and since then it's just escalated.

"We'd made 3,000 even before the Government's announcement about face masks having to be worn in shops. As you can imagine, we've made a lot more even since then. The face masks are just piled high in our living rooms now waiting to be sent out or collected!"

Helen and Wendy (59), who don't ask for payment, said that most people were happy to make a donation and any money received goes towards the material needed.

"Local nursing homes, churches and even takeaway drivers have been in touch asking for our face masks. I even received a picture from a young couple in America wearing some we'd made. Earby Post Office always stocks up with our masks for local elderly people who might not have the internet," Helen added.

Wendy modelling one of the masks

"A nurse on a COVID ward at St James' Hospital asked us some and we've also supplied to Pendleside Hospice. It's a great feeling to know we're helping so many worthy causes."

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Some of the masks produced by the sisters