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Local church says ‘Bring out your buttons!’ for local healthworkers

Spot which are the scarecrows with Anthony, Elliott, Linda, Oliver and Zoe outside Linda’s home on High Garth with the rainbow of scarecrows Linda made for the 8pm Thursday night clap for keyworkers. The scarecrows will be in her garden until the end of lockdown… then the flags will go out.

Over the past ten weeks, members of a Kendal church have worked together to produce over 500 novel items of clothing to make life more comfortable for keyworkers in local hospitals, care homes and supermarkets. Now they’re appealing for help so they can make hundreds more.

Linda Reynolds, who lives with her husband Anthony on High Garth in Kendal, got the idea for the project when she heard that nurses were finding that wearing elastic straps round their ears day in day out was really uncomfortable. She saw on social media that you could knit or crochet strips of wool, with a couple of big buttons at each end, to keep the elastic away from workers’ skin. After first checking the idea out with a friend working in critical care, she decided to get cracking.

Linda started by ringing care homes in Kendal and realised they had been totally forgotten. Everyone was very enthusiastic about trying out the soft mask holders. So she rang more care homes in Grange, Milnthorpe and Cartmel, and also took some round the local pharmacies. Everyone has been very grateful. ‘We would just like to say a huge thank you from all of us. The mask holders have made a huge change and our staff greatly appreciate them’, wrote Jasmine Nicol of Croftside in Milnthorpe in one of many thank you notes the family have received.

Linda, and her daughter Zoe who has been staying with her since the beginning of lockdown, have been knitting and crocheting several hours a day (when grandsons Oliver and Elliott were happily playing or in bed).

A face mask holder being worn on the ward by a nurse at Westmorland General Hospital

When they began to run out of the big, flat buttons needed for the mask holders, Linda put an appeal out to her church – St George’s on Castle Street, Kendal. And so that no one had to break the rules of lockdown, another friend from church, Lois Sparling, volunteered to pick packets of buttons up from people’s doorsteps during her daily exercise, cycling round Kendal and taking them up to High Garth.

“It’s amazing how everyone has pulled together to help,” says Lois. “People are so pleased to find a way to support our keyworkers, however small.”

Since then members of the church have also joined in knitting strips of wool and the appeal has gone out wider to other community groups to provide the vital big buttons. Among other people contributing so far have been members of Kendal Choral Society and Westmorland & Lonsdale Labour Party.

Linda still has requests from care homes all over South Lakeland pouring in. “We took a supply to Grange-over-Sands this week,” says Linda, “And we’ve been asked whether we can make some for Boar Bank and The Old Vicarage just this week. We’ve got through 1000 buttons so far but we’re going to need 1000 more!”

If you would like to donate any flat buttons (with holes not shanks), about 1 inch across, or if you’d like a supply of soft face mask holders for your workplace, just call Linda on 07784 405207, message the St George’s Church Facebook page on www.facebook.com/StGeorgesKendal/ or email Lois on [email protected].

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