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Behind the Scenes22nd July 2020

Life in lockdown: Making masks for the masses

As a continuation of the work we produced supporting Mental Health Awareness Week, we have decided to publish a weekly blog dedicated to wellness.  We’ve asked a few of our staff, volunteers and organisations we work closely with to write a journal post and diary a day in lockdown. These blogs will provide a snapshot of the everyday lives, experiences and wellbeing of our people.

Linda Biesterfeldt
Master Ropemakers Ltd

So, we all found ourselves in a situation which we had never experienced before. Total Lockdown, instructed by the Government to ‘Stay Home’ to help the NHS save lives. Most people were furloughed from work, I was one of those people.

For the first week or so, I did what most people were doing. Some DIY, gardening, and catching up with all the things at home you save for a rainy day. Also, enjoying my daily exercise which was walking my two dogs, Lottie and Mabel, in our local parks.

One Sunday I decided to make my family some fabric face masks, this was when the “Lockdown Mask Extravaganza” began! I decided to post on social media a photo of myself wearing my mask, and offered to make some for my friends. Well, it turned out that there were a vast amount of people that wanted cloth face coverings made.

Every day, I would walk my dogs for our four mile daily exercise. Upon my return home I made masks. This became my routine for around eight or nine weeks. I found some time towards the end of each day to sew for myself, and managed to complete some dressmaking projects I intended to undertake for some time. I also began a hand sewn patchwork quilt using all the left over pieces of fabric from the masks I had been making.

Before I knew it, I had reached the 1000 mask milestone. I thought, this will slow down now, but the orders still came in. I received face mask orders from individuals, care workers and other key workers, schools, and from people who had hospital appointments they had to attend.

At my last count, I had completed just over 2500 masks.

With the new announcements from the government confirming we need to wear masks to travel on public transport and to enter into shops, the orders have picked up all over again. My latest customer being The Historic Dockyard Chatham itself –  I am making masks in black and white with the little anchor logo.

So, most days I walk my dogs for four miles, then set about making the masks. Lockdown has passed quickly for me, I have enjoyed being kept busy with mask making and most of all helping people to feel safe during the 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic.


On your next visit to the Dockyard, look out for our staff wearing Linda’s masks. You can also buy them in our shop.


Find out more about Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust’s initiatives for Mental Health Awareness.

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