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Meet the celebrity designer making protective equipment

With face masks becoming part of normal and everyday outfits for the foreseeable future, a former tailor to the stars who lives in north Wales, Patrick Joseph, who received National Lottery funding for a previous project, has turned his hand to designing beautiful and striking protective garments for key health workers.

Through the ‘Telling a Story Through Tailoring’ project, Ruthin-based artist, Patrick – whose previous work includes designing for the stylists of Cheryl Cole, Kylie Minogue and Robbie Williams – has adapted his National lottery funded project to create PPE face masks dedicated to nurses, doctors and those working in support of the frontline health response to COVID-19. Patrick received a National Lottery grant from the Arts Council of Wales for a 2016 project and he and a team of dedicated volunteers have been busy making an alternative range of handmade masks, each with its own story.

Ruthin-based artist, Patrick has created a number of themed masks for key workers

His team of helpers includes a vintage clothing retailer, a chauffeur and painter/decorator turned designer. The mask-making project is cross-generational and inclusive, with disabled, vulnerable and socially isolated members creating from home.

One of the volunteers is a specific needs teacher who is assisted by her two daughters. For them, it’s turned into a home-schooling venture, with the eldest daughter checking for quality-control and the youngest keeps everyone in line and is a model to make sure the masks fit 7-10-year-olds. She also loves writing personalized hand-written bilingual messages on the lining of each of the masks – words of thanks, encouragement and hope. Another volunteer is a recovering stroke patient who irons the masks while her civil engineer husband has become an expert cutter.

Patrick’s volunteers all have different reasons for becoming involved, but they all have one thing in common – wanting to thank NHS staff for the sacrifices they are making throughout this pandemic.

£30 million is raised every week on average by National Lottery players for projects big and small across the country. Last month, it was announced that charities and organisations affected by the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK are being given access to a comprehensive package of support of up
to £600 million of repurposes money from The National Lottery.

Together with the Welsh Government, the Arts Council of Wales have been able to put £5.1 million from National Lottery sources into a £7.5 million Arts Resilience Fund for Wales to provide support for arts funded individuals and organisations to help them through the Coronavirus crisis. Whilst not directly supported from the Resilience Fund, the ‘Telling a Story Through Tailoring’ project is a prime example of how National Lottery funded projects in Wales have already been adapting to the crisis as best they can within the parameters of social distancing.

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“At the beginning of this pandemic I became suddenly redundant as a bespoke shirt maker,” says Patrick, who plans to continue mask-making community workshops post- lockdown.

“I looked into designing a mask pattern, which is now meeting a need as well as giving me and the team a sense of purpose. The mask has the potential to be a canvas, a canvas for makers to express and share personal experience of their life through Covid-19.”

Those benefitting from the handmade PPE include staff at Clatterbridge Cancer Care Centre on The Wirral, with 50 being delivered by the centre’s Governor, who is also part of the production line

“Secret messages or words, hidden narratives within my products has always been a fascination for me and it is only the wearer that is aware of this,” continues Patrick.

“The uplifting words are the last thing the wearer sees and reads as they put on the mask. The patient sees a friendly fabric print and not just a sometimes-scary surgical mask. These masks are intended to have a positive impact on the makers, the wearer and the patient being cared for. Our masks are also being used at small care homes and by special needs teachers – basically the carers who sometimes get forgotten.”

Highlighting the importance of Lottery support to communities throughout Wales, John Rose, Chair of the Wales National Lottery Forum and Director of the National Lottery Community Fund in Wales, said: “The distributors of National Lottery funding in Wales are acutely aware of the unprecedented impact the Coronavirus is having across the communities we support. We have been amazed how community groups of all types have pulled together to help in their communities.

“As funders, we are working tirelessly to support the projects we fund and mitigate the effects as far as possible during this difficult time. We want to reassure our communities that we are still here, we’re still making awards and we’d like to thank players of The National Lottery for their ongoing support, which is enabling us to make funding available to people and communities affected by the pandemic.”

To find out more about the range of funding support announced by National Lottery distributors across the UK to date, visit the National Lottery Good Causes website www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/coronavirus-pandemic-response

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