A sample of Patricia’s masks.

Patricia’s mask sales help secure income stream for LARCC

A Mullingar woman is using her skills with a sewing machine to produce fabric facemasks – and then selling them to raise funds for one of Westmeath’s favourite charities – LARCC.

To date, the masks made by Patricia Sheridan, from the Ballymahon Road, have raised €1,750 for LARCC, which provides a range of services and supports for people affected by cancer.

“It’s keeping me busy!” says Patricia, a keen crafter, who retired 10 years ago from LARCC, for which she worked for eight and a half years.

Over those 10 years, Patricia has been using her crafting skills to make seasonal items that are sold for LARCC, which relies heavily on fundraising to meet its costs.

“Normally for LARCC for Christmas, I would be doing the mini-Christmas socks and for Easter I’d be doing the little chicks: I just cannot be idle, I have to have something to do.”

Last year, the sale of the knitted Easter chicks had to be cancelled – a significant hit to the organisation; and the mini-Christmas stocking sales went on ice as well

Happily, Patricia’s masks, which she sells for €5 apiece, represent one ongoing income stream for LARCC: “All the money from the masks goes to LARCC,” says Patricia.

“I don’t take any money for materials or anything – 100 per cent of it goes to LARCC, and they badly need it.”

Patricia Sheridan.

Patricia has several months’ experience under her belt at this stage: “When it came in that we should all be wearing masks, I dug up a pattern on the internet.

“I was a bit complicated – but I worked it out anyhow and I’ve been making them since.

“The first ones I made were a little different: they had a pocket for putting a filter into them, but now I just make them with three layers of fabric and I put a slot in them for the nosewire, so if you are wearing glasses you can shape it around your nose.

“Now all my family have them – and even my daughter in Australia and my granddaughter: she said ‘they are much better than what I got over here’. I use whatever fabric I have. Initially, I bought some but then we were still in lockdown and I found a place called The Craft Cabin up in Cavan and I started getting material from there.

“Another lady helps me – Marguerite McCarthy – she does a bit of the initial sewing then I put everything together and finish them and package them in plastic bags.

“I’ve no idea how many we have made but I know we have made over €1,750 for LARCC.

“I’ve sold a lot of them out in Castletown Geoghegan post office. Mary out there has been brilliant; and I have had masks sold in Streamstown as well, and after that it has been word of mouth and a few friends have got them.

“I do men’s and women’s and also children’s sizes and also masks for teenagers as the others can be a bit too big for them.

“I haven’t timed myself making masks because I would do a whole lot of one part and do the same tasks in batches, rather than making them one by one from start to finish.”

At three layers thick, the masks are of good quality, and they come in all sorts of colours. They can be washed and reused many times over.

“If anyone wants to buy some off me I can photograph what I have and they can choose what they want,” says Patricia.

Alternatively, by appointment, she can display them on the window sill and anyone needing masks can view them through the window.

“I’m enjoying doing it and they are selling and it seems we are going to need them for a while,” says Patricia, who, incidentally, was inducted into the Mullingar Park Hotel Westmeath Examiner Sports Stars Hall of Fame in 2016 for her 30 years of dedicated service to tennis in Mullingar.

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