‘There are three main words I can sum lockdown up in-Mum, masks and memory teddies.’ Ged laughs. Her Glaswegian accent is a treat to listen to, and I lean nearer to the screen.
‘Mum is now 92 and went into a care home about a year ago with vascular dementia. I don’t think I’d have had anything like the worry about COVID if it wasn’t for Mum, and her being in a care home.’
Ged’s professional career is in risk management, and she said: ‘I saw this train coming in January. In February I was asking the care home about closing the doors and stopping visitors but they hadn’t caught the train yet, so it was a bit frustrating. It’s a good place, I’m happy with it and Mum’s fine, but it was just a panic for me.’
She’s also a volunteer there, and went into lockdown at the same time as they did on the 12th March, so she could be available if needed. She said: ‘That was three months ago, and I’ve never been in! So I haven’t been to a shop, and I’ve been window-visiting Mum since mid April. That was strange. I’ve got used to it now but the first time really felt..’ she gasps, sucking air in. ‘I wanted to check she was OK. She doesn’t really understand what’s going on, but I know she’s settled and OK now.’
When Ged visited her Mum she realised the staff only had small paper masks to wear, and decided to start making cotton washable face masks for them. ‘I’d previously been playing around and making things, and about three weeks into lockdown I realised I hadn’t touched my sewing machine because my head had been full of worry about Mum and everything.’
When her friends found out she was making masks, they started asking for them too, so she started asking for a small donation of a couple of pounds to cover the cost of the elastic in exchange for a mask. She said: ‘So that started the masks. I’ve probably made around 500 so far,’ she laughs, ‘the vast majority of which have been donated to charities or care homes. People would come round and clear me out, and I hated not having any, so I’d constantly be chasing my tail. It’s slowed down a little bit now, and is just ticking along. I felt like I had a bit of a purpose, that I had something worthwhile to do.’
The memory teddies idea has been kicking around for a while for Ged, and started when she made one for her Mum. She said: ‘Mum is virtually blind and has vascular dementia, and so last year I made a teddy out of some really jazzy, bright coloured material, for her to have something quite tactile and bright to interact with. She never really took to it though, and it’d just been sat in her room until one day when I visited she had it sat on her knee.’
It turned out one of the carers had been interested in it, and she asked Ged to make her one from her Mum’s clothes, as her Mum had died just a year before. Ged said: ‘I told her it was the first one I’d ever made, and I’d give it a go. I made it, and then she asked me to make another two for her friends! I then thought, oh, maybe I can do this. Although I felt bad cutting up her Mum’s dressing gown and t-shirts, I also knew she was going to enjoy it, and oh – the tears when I gave her it back.’ After that, Ged decided to give the idea a go as a business venture and now makes them to order.