THE number of residents sporting face masks in one South Somerset community has shot up thanks to the generosity of one resident and her needle and thread.

Sue Coates first started making face masks using spare material in her home, but the craze quickly spread in her local village of South Petherton.

Now, she is hoping that locals will get in touch for their own face mask, or people in other towns will be inspired to make their own.

Sue said: “I just realised that people were going around and putting their hands over their faces, covering their mouths with sleeves or scarves.

“It is the automatic thing to do when you are ordered to be careful about germs.

“The next best thing to do after that is to have a cloth mask.”

Sue also started making masks after she saw in the news that the NHS and other key workers were short on their own face shields.

She added: “I made a couple of them for my family and they were down really well, so I started making them for friends, and now I have done about 80 for the village.”

The masks are three layers thick with two layers of cotton fabric and a gauze insert.

“They are completely free of charge and, although they are non-medical there is scientific evidence to show they do help to reduce some transmission,” said Sue.

“They are becoming more and more popular in the USA and here in South Petherton several frontline workers have them along with an increasing amount of the public.”

As people are only able to travel for essential journeys, Sue has only been providing them for people within South Petherton.

She added: “I hope that people get in touch, or are inspired to make some for their own area.

“I have got a lot of cloth here, but you can just make them with your old clothes.”

For South Petherton residents to get a face mask of their own, contact Sue on 01460 240325.