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Coronavirus: Top milliner Grainne swaps striking hats for protective visors

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PPE supply: Grainne Maher

PPE supply: Grainne Maher

PPE supply: Grainne Maher

A leading local milliner is doing her bit to help healthcare workers during the Covid-19 crisis by making protective visors.

Grainne Maher, whose delicate creations have graced the pages of Elle UK, Italian Vogue and Harpers Bazaar China, usually works from her central Belfast studio producing sophisticated pieces for weddings and race-goers using classic shapes, hand-dyed feathers and antique embellishments.

But the coronavirus lockdown has put a stop to that for the time being so she has turned to making visors for care workers at Inspire Wellbeing.

The milliner told the Sunday World newspaper that she had been inspired by a call from fellow Irish hatmaker Philip Treacy for the creative industries to help in the fight against Covid-19.

"Philip is one of the word's most famous milliners, and he shared a link about joining the 'visor army'," Ms Maher told the paper.

Mr Treacy, who made the hat worn by Princess Beatrice at Prince William's wedding to Kate Middleton, said that he and his studio staff would be making protective visors for healthcare professionals across London.

"For the first week or two of lockdown I hadn't done anything and it started to play on my mind that I should be trying to help," Ms Maher said.

The visors - made from foam and clear acetate sheets - are simple to make, but highly effective.

Among the first organisations that will receive her visors will be Inspire Wellbeing, a local body which supports people with addictions, disabilities and mental health issues.

Grainne has also started Quid Pro Quo (This For That), an initiative to set up a kind of skills exchange for people to barter skills and services.

"We all have something we can share," Ms Maher said.

"It's not just physical stuff remember, it can be skills, or just time."

Judging by the reaction on Grainne's Facebook page, it looks like an idea whose time has come.

Public relations experts, journalists, artists, art gallery owners, business coaches and more have rushed to contact her to share resources and suggestions.

"I'm a milliner but who the hell wants a fancy hat at the moment?" she told the Sunday World.

"It's in no way a priority. But maybe I can do something, and someone else can do something, and later in the year, they need a fancy hat.

"It could be a new economy - and the idea has already had such a good response," she added.

Belfast Telegraph