AN UNSTOPPABLE grandmother has sewn and sold hundreds of coronavirus masks for charity under lockdown.

Jan Wilks from Telscombe Cliffs is something of a stitching sensation. The 71-year-old used to own a sewing shop, and her machine hasn’t stopped humming for weeks.

She fired up her Singer when a friend found out the charity Blind Veterans had a PPE shortage at its training and rehabilitation centre in Ovingdean.

Jan said: “We knew the care staff and blind veterans needed masks so three of us got together and made 30.

“It made me feel great and I really enjoyed it so I decided to start making more using the material I had in my drawers.

“I gave them out to friends and I think word got around because the Handy Hardware shop in Rottingdean asked for a couple for when they were doing deliveries.

“Apparently people kept on asking where they got their lovely masks from, so they came to me and said they would be happy to sell them in the shop for charity.

“I made a batch and – lo and behold – they quickly sold out. A few batches later and they had sold over 200.

“I still can’t quite believe it.”

Jan has raised £1,000, which will be split between two charities – Blind Veterans UK and the Brighton Macmillan Coastal Garden Trail.

She said: “We used to live in Ovingdean so Blind Veterans UK have been part of our lives for over 40 years.

“I used to have a sewing shop in Rottingdean and it was popular with blind veterans’ wives when they came on holidays at the rehabilitation centre.

“I’m so pleased I decided to get involved with this project. It was so lovely to do something beneficial for a good cause while I was stuck inside during lockdown.”

Since the outbreak of coronavirus, Blind Veterans UK has adapted its service to support the 5,000 people it helps. The are at high risk from Covid-19, and 90 per cent of them are over 70.

Its National Support Service is helping blind veterans through this period of social isolation.

Nicky Shaw, the charity’s director of operations, said: “Living in isolation, blind veterans need our help right now with daily tasks, such as the shopping, and constant emotional support through this difficult time.

“So we are temporarily changing our service and mobilising our staff to provide practical, essential support to help the most vulnerable.

“There is so much that we can and must do to support blind veterans to help them maintain physical and emotional wellbeing, and to feel safe, reassured and cared for during this crisis.”

Blind Veterans UK helps vision impaired ex-service personnel rebuild their lives after losing their sight. Since 1915, the charity has provided rehabilitation, training and support to tens of thousands of blind veterans. You can donate at

The Brighton Macmillan Coastal Garden Trail will not take place in person this year, but generous gardeners are offering virtual tours instead. For information visit