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Member News: Dawn Clarke creates sleep masks for tired NHS workers

Dawn Clarke Designs
Dawn Clarke

NHS workers struggling with long hours and changing shift patterns because of the coronavirus pandemic should be able to get a little more rest and shut-eye, thanks to the sewing expertise of a Hampshire children’s clothes designer.

Dawn Clarke usually spends her days designing and creating bespoke children’s outfits. But when she heard about the need for sleep masks on a discussion thread on the Make It British website she knew she could help.

Dawn has created 50 blackout eye masks specifically for staff at West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, where one of her relatives works. The hospital has a special place in Dawn’s heart because it’s where several members of her family were born and other relatives have been taken care of at the end of their lives too.

Dawn wanted to ‘bring a little ray of sunshine’ for the staff and so created the masks, which comprise a fun print on the front, quality blackout fabric in the centre and a pure silk lining. They also come with an adjustable ribbon headband and a cotton pouch to keep them in. Dawn has added fun decorative details to a selection, while all are adorned with a small ‘hope’ rainbow and each mask comes with its own pouch, featuring a hand-sewn supportive message.  

All the fabric is natural cotton or silk, and is hypoallergenic.

Dawn said: “I’m in awe of our NHS workers dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. So when I read they had been asking for eye masks to help them sleep around crazy shift patterns, I knew I wanted to help.

“All my usual commissions require quality fabric, so my studio is a treasure trove of beautiful scraps and offcuts – it’s such a pleasure to upcycle them into something useful.”

Louise Halfpenny, director of communications at West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We have been bowled over by the kindness shown to us. The sleep masks are extra special because they are handmade and will be a lasting gift for staff. The fact that each mask comes in its own pouch with a handwritten message of support for the wearer is a lovely added touch.”

Dawn Clarke Designs Eye Masks
Senior Sister Grace Sanderson

Grace Sanderson, senior sister on Bluebell ward, is one of the hospital staff to receive a mask by Dawn. She said: “It will make a very nice change to wear such a pretty mask! Getting a good night’s sleep is more important now than ever so we’re really grateful to Dawn at Dawn Clarke designs for sending these in.”

The masks are being given out this week (w/c 14/4/20) as part of a ‘wellbeing’ package prepared for frontline staff.

Dawn’s day job is managing commissions through her business, Dawn Clarke Designs. She creates ethical, bespoke occasion wear – often upcycling vintage textiles or incorporating fabrics from other family-owned pieces – to hand make cherished items that become heirlooms to pass on.

Find out more about Dawn Clarke Design here.

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