A TALENTED Artigarvan teenager is helping to raise funds for the Alzheimer's Research by creating and selling a hugely popular range of personalised face masks!
Lucy Walker, 13, from Artigarvan, said she was uninspired by the 'plain' face masks for sale in shops, so she decided to make her own - and since word got out about the unique product, she has been busy fulfilling numerous orders from businesses and individuals in Strabane, Londonderry and as far away as Scotland!
The venture is helping raise money for Alzheimer's Research which is a cause very close to Lucy's heart, with her late granny Walker having suffered from the disorder, and her granny Jackson also battling with the illness.
Lucy, who attends Lisneal College, Derry, said she is proud to support Alzhiemer's Research with the venture, and that she is happy to be promoting mask wearing in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Explaining how the innovative venture came about, Lucy said: "In the summer, during lockdown, everyone was talking about having to wear a face mask when out and about at shops, and even when we return to school and it got me thinking of what kind of face mask I could wear.
"All the shops where stocking them but they seemed pretty plain which got me thinking of making one for myself. I had pocket money saved all year for my summer holiday to Blackpool but that was cancelled due to lockdown, so with nothing much to do with all the restrictions in place and school closed, I decided to buy a printing machine so I could create my own face mask designs.
"It only takes a few minutes to complete and with school closed again I have has loads of time on my hands to do this which also keeps me active and my mind busy during the shut down.
Lucy continued: "My first face mask was one with my Lisneal College logo. I really liked it myself so I made one for my principal, Mr Allen. He really liked it and wears it about school! It really has taken off for me and the support I have got from family and friends has been amazing.
"The past few weeks have been really good, local businesses in Strabane and Derry have ordered face masks from me with their company logo on them, a business from Bangor heard of me and placed an order with me and today I have been in contact with a business in Scotland that contacted me after they found out about what I am doing.
"Loads of extended family and friends have purchased face masks also, Artigarvan Covid-19 response group have helped get the word out and the response has been fantastic, to date I have had over 200 face masks printed and sold to order, which is pretty good going. I set up a Facebook page, FaceCoveringsByLucy and this has been busy with people contacting me with their designs day and night.
"I have turned it into a family business of sorts," Lucy continued. "Mum is my purchasing manager, Dad is my marketing manager and my sister, Emma, helps out with the designs and packaging of the finished product. I don't think I am to bossy and they all do a good job," she quipped, "since it has got busier I have really needed them to help out!"
Through the endeavour is hoping to raise as much as she can for the charitable cause.
"Alzheimer's has always been a part of my life since I was born," she explained. "My Granny Walker took ill at the same time as I was born and sadly we lost her in the first lockdown in June after battling for many years with Alzheimer's. We miss granny Walker every day.
"My granny Jackson was diagnosed with Alzheimer's seven years ago. She lives with us now since granda passed away last year. We keep her busy and active, which is very important and love having her live with us. I decided Alzheimer's was the charity I would like to help out in respect of my two grannies, who mean so much to me and this gives me the motivation to succeed in my venture.
"I have not really set a goal or a target, I want to keep doing this as long as people want me to make the face masks. My inbox has been full since school closed so that's pretty cool, and with Christmas coming up I am planning to start printing branded mugs as they would be a good stocking filler for my customers. The more I can raise for Alzheimer's research the better.
"I really do hope it makes people think about wearing face masks. It is very important to me because I have a vulnerable person at home and anything we can do to keep vulnerable people safe at all times, especially with Covid-19, should be highlighted and promoted to make people understand.
"If it means wearing face masks helps out in getting the infection rate down, and, keeping it down then that means we can get back to some sort of normal life quicker, that can only be good for everyone."