Prestigious honour for Tyrone lockdown hero

Mask-maker Cathy is a ‘true inspiration’, says proud sister
AN unsung hero from Tyrone who helped to make more than 3,000 masks for frontline health workers during the first lockdown has been honoured by the Irish Credit Union movement.
Special needs assistant, Cathy Burns from Omagh is one of only three people across Ireland to be named as a winner of the Credit Union’s ‘Reward Your Hero’ 2020 competition.
She was nominated for the award by her sister, Emma McFarland for the incredible work she did throughout the lockdown for the community in Omagh.
Emma said, “She’s been such a help to people in the community, putting a smile on their faces during the tough times. She’s the joker, the life and soul of any party and always at the other end of the phone – a true hero in all our eyes.”
After a conversation with their cousin, who is a midwife, brought up the topic of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) shortages, Cathy decided to see if she could help the situation. At the time, the demand for PPE across the world was huge.
After watching a tutorial on YouTube, she went about creating a mask or two for her cousin and colleagues.
She began to drop them into local GP surgeries, local businesses and to frontline workers. Suddenly demand became huge, and she knew she needed an extra pair of hands.
Following a Facebook appeal for helpers, 24 willing volunteers put their hand up. Through Trojan effort, the Omagh woman and her team created over 3,000 masks across a nine-week period.
Donations totalling £2,725 were made to the hard-working group, with the money being split evenly between two very deserving local charities.
The Midwives of Omagh invested their share in a cuddle cot, which allows parents and their stillborn children to spend as much time together as possible before a funeral. 
It is a special cold unit with a basket where parents can place their stillborn child. The cold helps preserve the body. With the cuddle cot, parents can bring their baby home rather than have the baby’s body sent straight to the hospital morgue.
Cathy and her team also donated money to their local hospice to allow them to purchase six mini-fridges for the rooms of those receiving end-of-life care. These fridges are a small aspect of normality and comfort. It means patients can have a small yoghurt, some jelly – or even a ‘cheeky wee drink’!
Having spent the first lockdown assisting frontline health workers, Cathy now finds herself needing their help. After recently being diagnosed with breast cancer, she is currently undergoing treatment.
Posting on Facebook, her sister Emma said, “Life can change in the matter of an instant. One minute you are helping the NHS and then weeks later the NHS is helping my sister through breast cancer. You are a true inspiration.”
Praising Cathy’s tireless efforts during the lockdown, a Credit Union spokesperson said, “From a small idea and the want to help and be a lifeline to others, Cathy and her team made life-changing differences to two extremely important causes within their local community. 
“A hero is a real person or a main fictional character who, in the face of danger, combats adversity through feats of ingenuity, courage or strength. Cathy epitomises this definition and always works for others.”

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