Family business spreads festive cheer on Mull

Mark Alecock of MEA Furniture and Crafts with just some of the gifts to be sent to schoolchildren on Mull.

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What started off as a small project to raise some money for a local primary school has now resulted in every child on Mull receiving an extra Christmas gift.

Husband and wife Mark and Emma Alecock, of MEA Furniture and Crafts on the Isle of Mull, realised there was a need for face coverings to protect the local community on Mull in March and began research into designs.

Taking up the story Emma said: ‘Those designs turned to product and we began making masks to give away to volunteer groups, shops and services on the island.

‘We quickly realised there would be a long-term need for masks and decided to turn our project into a fundraising activity for our local primary school, Lochdon, who were unable to fundraise themselves due to the restrictions.

‘Bob and Linda Boswick at Craignure Spar very kindly sold the masks on our behalf and many months of mask-making provided much-needed funds for the local school.’

Given that it had been a tough year for everyone, MEA then thought their island’s young people might appreciate a bit of festive cheer, and the crafty couple began to make handmade Christmas stockings using some of the funds raised to fill them with goodies for all children at Lochdon and sister school, Ulva, plus the babies/toddlers and High School young people in their local school area.

With the school on board, Mark and Emma then thought it would be nice if they could do something for children in other parts of the island, so began to make up big boxes of games, puzzles and books for all the primary schools on the island.

Thanks to Mark’s sister, Amanda Shepherd, who is a manager at the Entertainer Toy shop, they were able to make the funds stretch even further.

High School pupils received a specially-designed face mask which the couple thought would be fun as well as practical from an ‘elf and safety’ perspective.

Mark told us: ‘This project turned from just something to do in the evenings to a full-scale production and we have enjoyed every minute of it.

‘We roped our two daughters in to help on the sewing machines and everyone mucked in with the wrapping and delivering of the Christmas gifts.

‘When it all started we didn’t want or intend to make money out of the virus, we just wanted to help our community, and because we had the big cutters etc, we turned our hand to making masks and then scrubs.

‘Word got out and we started receiving requests for masks, and when the tourists started to come back we thought, well, why not raise money for the school. It just grew from there and has been real fun.’

A total of 57 stockings, seven boxes and 135 festive masks were delivered in the first week of December to start the Christmas countdown with some fun festive cheer.

‘A big thanks to everyone who supported the mask-making project without whom none of this would have been possible,’ added Emma.