‘Better than knickers’ is what these PPE Face Masks have been called

Earlier today Richard Webber of Number Six Training contacted Uckfield FM

He said:

A couple of weeks ago, I made a few protective face masks from Henry vacuum bags (which are made of HEPA material) for the family because of the shortage.

A very concerned nurse friend contacted me and asked if I knew where she could get some face masks as they had no masks in the nursing home where she works. I explained that I could provide just over 20 home-made ‘last resort’ masks. My friend said “they will be better than knickers” which she had been wearing for face protection that day. I found this very upsetting as she was working in an environment with people presenting symptoms of Covid- 19.

The ‘last resort’ masks got them by for a day or two until they managed to get some standard masks in.

I have now been making face masks of a different pattern based on this video:


I have simplified the making process. For example I could not find pipe cleaners so resorted to soft wire an paperclips with tape.

Last week I delivered of a new design for trial testing by carers (for fit etc.) this morning to Sussex Support Services at the Victoria Pleasure Ground, Uckfield as their carers desperately need the face masks – they are not considered ‘front line’ but care and nursing homes are a high risk and to quote the lady who manages Sussex Support Services “we are desperate for face masks”.

Today, Sussex Support Services requested more – I dropped off 50 and another 30 at a care home in Horam, who had put out a call. The need is evident.

So far my wife Sue and I have made about 150 for a hundred and the materials for about another 60 – we are just waiting for more 1/4” elastic from Amazon. I bought out all the 1/2“ elastic (which was cut it in half to make it go further) and a few boxes of Henry bags from Tesco’s Uckfield and more from Amazon. Amazon have put a block on me buying anymore from them!

To support our local carers and the organisations who are struggling at the moment to source face masks, I am looking for people who have basic sowing machine skills to make ‘last resort masks’ – dependent on the local care and nursing home needs. I know there are many people in Uckfield who are able to help provide temporary help in this time of crisis.

I will then send out a pattern template to help you. I can then collect the completed masks, coordinate who needs them and then deliver. Somehow, we will manage this!

I have named this “Better than knickers” – simply for the reason, to remind us that doing something to support our dedicated carers, is better than doing nothing.

If one life is saved – it will be worth it. Keep safe   – Richard


Richard will be the guest of Tony Williams on Friday 17th April at just after 1pm.