‘I don’t do it for thanks’ - Seamstress Clare on helping protect her community

Clare Perkins has been making beautiful hand made face masks for people Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Clare Perkins has been helping to protect her community - Credit: Charlotte Bond

A former town mayor and community stalwart has spoken of how coronavirus helped her to use her own passion and skills to help protect others. 

Clare Perkins from Woodbridge has spent the majority of 2020 sat behind her sewing machine helping to provide face masks for her local community. 
Ms Perkins, a former mayor of the town has long been involved in charitable events there. 
At the start of the year, Ms Perkins and friend Jan Pulsford had been planning to host the second Spirit of Beowulf festival in Woodbridge in the summer. 
However, as the pandemic worsened, things quickly changed and the event was cancelled. 
Lockdown followed and Clare, a seamstress by trade, found herself behind the sewing machine making face masks.
“Lockdown has forced a busy work room, it’s been amazing,” Ms Perkins said. 
“I started off by being asked to make some for the Woodbridge Town Council and then the East Anglian Air Ambulance.
“I don’t like being bored, whenever I got a request I just did it, knowing I was helping people.
“A happy community is very important to me.”
Over the next few months Clare started doing more and more sewing, creating hundreds of masks for charities and local groups as well as scrubs for the NHS and the East Anglian Air Ambulance. 
Her masks proved so popular that she set up her own Etsy shop to help pay for all the fabric she was using. 
Even that was inundated with orders and she was forced to close it to catch up. 
So how many face masks has she actually made this year?
“At a rough guess I can genuinely say I have made over 2000,” she said. 
“I’m amazed my sewing machine hasn’t given up or my fingers.
“It’s lovely to know that every single one I am making is with love. 
“In my own way I hope I bring a smile to somebody’s face.
“Every stitch matters and I know that every stitch is going out to help protect somebody in this situation.
“I think that’s what makes it worth making one.”  
Ms Perkins said that her mother had been one of the key motivators behind her charitable work. 
“I had a mother who was very community minded,” she said. 
“We live in a community and it’s up to each and every one of us to do the best for the community we live in, in whichever way we can.
“I just like to help in the way I can. I don’t do it for thanks.
“I’ve been given a gift. I’ve got a skill I can help people with. If you’ve been given a gift you should pass it on. 
“In times like this everyone needs to pull together.”
Ms Perkins said it was also her love for the town that helped motivate her to keep up her work. 
“I just love Woodbridge,” she said. 
“Since 1982 when I first met Woodbridge, I’ve loved it. 
“I love the people in it and I love the way it is.”
As well as her mother, Ms Perkins said she had also been motivated in her volunteering work by disasters she had heard reports of as a younger woman including the eruption at Tristan Da Cunha and the Boxing Day tsunami in Indonesia. 
“I was really affected by what happened to those children after the volcano,” Ms Perkins said. 
“I think from that moment I have always wanted to do something to help the children. 
“Then when the tsunami hit, it was that feeling again.”
Ms Perkins shares that motivation with one of her great inspirations, her partner James Lightfoot. 
“I met James not long after the tsunami and by coincidence he had been affected by it,” she said.  
Mr Lightfoot and his daughter had already been doing fundraising work.
“He really inspired me,” she added. 
“He has been such a community minded person. His influence has embedded itself in me.”
As the year comes to a close, Ms Perkins is continuing to sew face masks; many of which will go on to be stocking fillers for Christmas. 
Next year, Ms Perkins is hoping to bring a new festival to the town to help bring back some cheer after a difficult year. 
She remains inspired to continue helping her community and sewing to protect others.  
“Sewing is my life,” she added. 
“I am a born sewer. It’s my life.”

Would you like to nominate a community hero? Email community.heroes@archant.co.uk 

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