STITCHING FOR SAFETY: Carlyle Gardens residents Judy Wilkie and Fae Ash with some of the masks made by the Sewing Circle.
STITCHING FOR SAFETY: Carlyle Gardens residents Judy Wilkie and Fae Ash with some of the masks made by the Sewing Circle.

Region’s retirees craft masks to help combat COVID

CRAFTING more than a hobby, residents at Carlyle Gardens Retirement Village are putting their sewing machines and craft skills to help people reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

The residents have been busy creating face masks by the dozen and donating proceeds to the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section).

The Bargara retirement village has wholeheartedly embraced the mask-making initiative, which was the brainchild of resident Judy Wilkie.

Judy has lived at the RetireAustralia village for 20 years, but has four sisters in Victoria who called on her sewing skills as soon as cloth masks were mandated for their state.

It wasn't long before fellow residents asked if Judy could make masks for them, which was when she realised it was a job for the Carlyle Gardens 'Sewing Circle'.

Prior to COVID-19, the weekly sewing group was primarily focused on altering and mending clothes for fellow residents - selflessly working to drum up donations for the RFDS Base in Bundaberg.

In fact, they have been such loyal supporters and advocates of the Service that the Sewing Circle was awarded an RFDS Local Hero Award in 2018.

Carlyle Gardens Village Manager Belinda Hensler said residents were always focused on how they could help others.

"This latest effort to help keep people safe while also raising money for the Bundaberg RFDS is a typical example," she said.

"While masks are not mandatory in Queensland, re-usable cloth masks could go a long way in helping protect our community and slow the spread of coronavirus.

"The work of the Sewing Circle exemplifies the community spirit at the heart of our village, and the care and consideration our residents have for others."

Judy said the RFDS held a special place in her heart and that she had supported them for decades.

Together with her late husband, Judy would camp remotely in the Gulf of Carpentaria and Cape York for six weeks at a time and so invested in a portable Flying Doctor radio for peace of mind.

This enabled them to contact the Charleville Base and have a doctor on hand in case of emergency.

RFDS Manager Clinical and Base Operations Robyn Langton thanked the Sewing Circle for their kind donation.

"This special group of residents from the Carlyle Gardens Retirement Village are dedicated supporters of the Flying Doctor who generously donate their time and raise much-needed funds for the Service," Ms Langton said.

"We were thrilled to acknowledge their efforts in 2018 with our RFDS Local Hero Award for the Bundaberg region.

"I thank them for their continued support through this latest initiative, which is incredibly timely and will be of great benefit as we all navigate the pandemic."

The crafty mask-making group observes social distancing and stringent infection control, keeping the communal areas spotless and wiping down work surfaces with disinfectant between each use.

To find out more about Carlyle Gardens Retirement Village, call 1300 931 502 or click here.

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