A BAND of enthusiastic stitchers has made more than 2,000 facemasks for frontline healthcare workers during the pandemic.

And since Gorse Hill School teaching assistant Ranjit Sihra started the group Sewing Masks, Scrubs and Scrub Bags for NHS Staff her nimble-fingered volunteers have sewn more than 100 sets of scrubs for staff in the hospital and care homes.

It began with just 12 members and has now grown to over 600.

Ranjit, of Bessemer Close, said: “It feels great that so many people want to help this good cause. Everyone has come together, despite us being in lockdown or shielding we were all able to help and make a difference.”

She started making drain bags for patients with breast cancer at Oxford’s Churchill Hospital after a devastating cancer diagnosis in 2016.

The 50-year-old said: “I wanted to help people and make it a little bit better. Parents have said it has made it easier on their children when they visit.

“I had to have a lumpectomy then a full mastectomy and a hysterectomy. At first the cancer was just the size of a pea but it kept growing so I chose to do those surgeries so I had the best chance possible.

“It was difficult but it showed me how much care is taken by the staff to look after you. I realised how much nurses and doctors do for you, for them to be doing their job while running out of scrubs. It was nice we could help.”

Ranjit plans to keep making masks for as long as the group is needed.

And she might be around for a while because demand has increased in the wake of the government’s announcement that customers must wear face coverings in shops.

“The moment they said they were being made compulsory my Facebook went mad and there were loads of messages pinging in my inbox,” she said.

“I had almost 40 messages asking for a mask to be made. I couldn’t keep up with it so I asked the other ladies I work with in the group to let these people know a certain time when they can come and collect a mask.

“I was there for about five hours while these people came to get their masks,” she said.

“The Swindon Children’s Scrapstore was asking for some. We made just a few a day before, but since the announcement we’ve had to make 100 masks for women, children and men every week, so now we make about 20 a day.”

The group doesn’t have a set price for its masks but asks people to make donations so they can keep going.

But those who are vulnerable or unable to afford one can ask for a free mask.

Orders can be made on the group’s Facebook page.