A HAMPSHIRE mum has been congratulated by Dame Esther Rantzen after raising more than £4,000 for the NSPCC by selling homemade face coverings.

Lesley Yates, who has been fundraising for the charity for the past six years, began making masks at the start of the lockdown in March.

She initially intended to make only a few - but believes she has now sold thousands.

Lesley said: "I have been volunteering for the NSPCC for about six years, helping at the events and street collections. When it looked like our upcoming events were going to be cancelled, I thought face masks would be a way of raising some extra money."

Lesley, a member of the NSPCC's Lymington Committee, set herself an initial target of £500.

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But it soon grew after some of her fellow volunteers bought masks and started spreading the word.

"We quickly moved the goal to £1,000 and now we're over £4,000 and still counting.”

Her fundraising efforts have also earned her an Esther Award. The accolade aims to recognise the extraordinary efforts made by NSPCC staff and volunteers, with the winners chosen by Childline founder and president Dame Esther Rantzen, who has a house in the New Forest.

Lesley paid tribute to her fellow volunteers who were instrumental in her fundraising success.

“It was very nice to be nominated for the award but I'm a bit embarrassed by that sort of attention, it wasn’t just me, all of the volunteers did a lot and it’s a nice sense of accomplishment,” she said.

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“I was very excited to be one of the winners but my £4,000 seems like such a drop in the ocean. So much is needed to fund the projects.”

NSPCC supporting manager Caroline Morgan added: “We're so pleased Lesley has won one of our coveted Esther awards this year. Supported by the Lymington committee, she has turned a difficult situation into a positive.

“By making face masks attractive - and working together to sell them - Lesley has raised £4,000 for NSPCC.

“NSPCC couldn’t carry on without the support of volunteers such as Lesley. Dame Esther loved her inspirational story and we are very proud of her.”