The Wokingham Paper

Wokingham’s Shirley has a face mask offer that’s hard to refuse: buy one get five free (just don’t expect to wear those extra ones)

Shirley Smith
Shirley Smith with some of the masks she has created

EVERYONE likes a bargain, so how about this one in time for Friday’s new law on wearing a face mask when in shops… You can buy one and get an astonishing five free. 

The catch? Well, you won’t be wearing the five freebies. 

And it’s not really a catch, as they’ll be going to help some of the world’s poorest people stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Wokingham-based Shirley Smith has been busy creating the face masks along with a team of volunteers. 

They’re being sold for a fiver, plus a quid for post and packaging. 

Funds from the sales go towards SEED Madagascar, a UK-based humanitarian and environmental charity working on the island of Madagascar. The charity commissions five masks to be made by the community. For £1, they can cover the cost of materials, labour at two-and-a-half times the minimum wage and the distribution of a single mask. 

They’re keen to help as almost four in five people earn less than £1.51 a day. 

The island has few health services and mortality rates are among the worst in the world. The  country’s communication systems that could spread vital health messages are poor. 

And the virus is projected to take a terrible toll, not only in terms of human life but also in terms of levels of poverty.

SEED Madagascar face masks
Masks ready to be distributed in Madagascar

Face masks on the island are therefore vitally important to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus. 

Enter Shirley’s project. She first visited Madagascar in 2006, returning regularly to support numerous projects as well as carrying out research there for her doctorate at the University of Reading. 

 Mark Jacobs, SEED Madagascar Director, is grateful for Shirley’s help. 

“Helping communities halt the spread of coronavirus is vital,” he said. “We’ve commissioned more than 7,000 masks so far and we’re doing all we can to protect the most vulnerable, but we need more support to build our response.  

“It is terrifying to think about what this pandemic will do in Madagascar.”

To find out more, to volunteer or to buy a face mask, log on to

School children in Madagascar
School children in Madagascar

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Shirley Smith

Thanks for your interest in this initiative. I have loads of new funky designs available, please just describe the one(s) you like from the photo attached to this comment when you order and mention ‘Shirley’. Thank you for your support, Shirley.

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