When our country went into lockdown, we all found different ways to fill our time; some changed to working from home, others caught up with long overdue decorating or gardening.
For Linda Gilbert, of East Ogwell near Newton Abbot, once the decorating and gardening projects were happily completed, she turned her hand to a different task – and raised much-needed funds for Devon Air Ambulance in the process: over £8,000 in fact! 
In early May, there was much in the news about the urgent need for PPE for medical teams, so when a midwife neighbour asked Linda, a keen craftswoman, to make a couple of facemasks for herself and her colleagues on the ward, she was happy to accept. Those first few led to the beginning of some very long days and weeks ahead as demand grew.
Linda’s face coverings are pleated in design with elastic straps. For comfort, a crocheted connector is an optional extra, allowing you to hook the elastic to buttons on the connector, rather than around your ears. 
Promoting the washable, fabric face coverings on a gallery on her own Facebook page, and the Facebook page for her village, Linda was amazed at the instant demand and at people’s generosity. She has often found envelopes of buttons through her letterbox and bundles of fabric left on her doorstep. 
When the Government advised that face coverings would be compulsory on public transport from the 15th June, requests for Linda’s masks soared. With her sewing machine busy whirring all day, Linda put out a plea for help with the crocheted connectors and other villagers happily rose to the challenge.
“I’ve been so thrilled how people have rallied and I know that so many people are just so grateful that their money is going to Devon Air Ambulance,” Linda explained.
One local veterinary surgery ordered 20 of the crocheted connectors, knowing that the £20.00 was going straight into the pot for the Air Ambulance.  At my busiest I was making over 35 masks a day, which was adding at least £150 each day to the pot, although the demand has slowed a little now. But, of course, with fears of a second wave, and the need to wear a face covering in places such as hairdressers, I’m happy to carry on making them for as long as there’s a need. It’s been great to feel so productive throughout this strange lockdown time.
Learning about Linda’s masks, DAA’s Debbie Gregory ordered eight for her own family. When she took delivery of the masks, Debbie said, “With so many activities and events being cancelled this year our fundraising has taken such a massive hit, but we’ve been humbled by the new and imaginative ways people have come up with to raise funds. Linda’s support, and that of all her helpers and customers, is invaluable to Devon Air Ambulance, offering comfortable, washable face masks to the public and raising much-needed funds to help keep the service flying. Linda’s efforts have been absolutely fantastic! Big thanks to Linda for all her hard work.”
With so many get togethers and community fundraisers postponed or cancelled due to the parameters surrounding COVID, we are fundraising very differently. Do you have a fundraising idea you'd like to share with us! We welcome your support