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Luxury designer turns talents to sewing for frontline workers

2 Mins read
BT Coleraine

A designer of exclusive underwear has turned her time and talents to sewing protective face masks for free for frontline healthcare workers in Mid and East Antrim.

Based in Cullybackey, Anderson/Chiles creates beautifully crafted and unique underwear for both men and women.

Owner Bernadette Anderson gained a degree in Swimwear and Lingerie from De Montfort University and taught Art and Design in London for 23 years, before moving home to Northern Ireland in 2017 to set up the business.

“As with all small businesses, things have understandably been much quieter since the COVID-19 pandemic began,” explained Bernadette.

“I was sitting at home and feeling like I really wanted to do something with all this spare time I suddenly had to help others, when I stumbled across a lady in the USA who was hand sewing facemasks for local carers. Taking my inspiration from her, I contacted a friend who works in a local care home and asked if they needed any face masks.”

Having completed 20 face masks initially for staff in Redford Care Home in Cullybackey and 10 for Gortgole Fold in Portglenone, Bernadette was contacted by Mid and East Antrim Agewell Partnership (MEAAP) – a charity which aims to improve the lives of older people aged 60 years and over, living in the Ballymena, Larne and Carrickfergus Areas.

Using her own stock of fabrics and elastic, she has handsewn a further 130 face masks to be distributed by MEAAP to care homes and community carers across the borough. She continues to work towards a target of 200 masks.

“I wanted the masks to be cheery and attractive to patients rather than dark and daunting, so I have used a range of colourful, patterned fabrics – all of which I had in stock already from my previous role as a teacher,” she said.

“It is costing me nothing other than my time, which I have a lot more of at the minute, and I am just so pleased to be able to turn a passion of mine into something practical and helpful, and to play my own small part in supporting the amazing work of our frontline healthcare workers.”

Bernadette would encourage others to volunteer their time, talent and skills to help others during the pandemic if it safe to do so, saying that it has given her a “great lift”.

“I saw so many people doing wonderful things like running marathons in their gardens to raise money for the NHS and I really felt that I had to do something as well,” she continued. “I mightn’t be able to run marathons, but I can certainly sew!

“Doing something useful in this way has given me a great lift. It’s so humbling and encouraging to know that my efforts are benefiting others in the borough.”

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