By Jodie Nesling
A kind-hearted teenager has combined savvy business sense with serious sewing skills to raise hundreds for a Ramsgate foodbank.
Tiggy Were began to hand-make masks at the beginning of lockdown and drew inspiration from designer dad Nelson who creates beautiful leather bags
Many of their clients who visit their Quex Bag Bus are rurally based so they worked together to create designs inspired by the countryside and with material sourced from the Lake District.
The 13-year-old says his dad, whose love of fashion saw him create his own clothes in Kenya, taught him how to make the masks and friend Timmy began to help with deliveries on his electric scooter.
The Birchington teen then wanted to give something back. “We go to the Salvation Army and we thought donating to the foodbank would be something different because at the time there had already been lots of fundraisers for the NHS,” he said.
Proud mum Jenny says Tiggy is resilient, caring and hardworking and battled through tears when the orders flooded in after the announcement masks were being made mandatory in some locations.
She explained: “We had 60 orders over the weekend and he worked all weekend at the sewing machine. I helped a bit with the ironing and so did his nan but he did all the sewing himself.”
Clients even included teachers from King Ethelbert School, who were impressed with Tiggy’s work ethic and philanthropy.
The youngster was recently subjected to racial abuse from a stranger on the street and Jenny says all her family have suffered. She said: “Only recently Tiggy was racially abused and several years ago we actually had to report an incident to the police as both him and his dad (Nelson) had rocks thrown at them,” she said.
The case went to court and restorative justice – where perpetrators meet with their victims to show the impact of their crime- was a success. “We bumped into him and he offered to shake hands with Nelson and Tiggy,” she said.
Tiggy’s indomitable spirit has prevailed and Jenny says she hopes it may challenge stereotypes of teenage boys. She said: “We want to prove to the world that teenage boys can do really good things.”
More than £400 has been raised from selling 160 masks, with the cash going to Ramsgate and Birchington Salvation Army foodbanks. Tiggy also has a little leftover to treat himself.
He said: “Thank you to everybody who has bought one of my masks, I have raised a considerable amount of money. The response has been overwhelming and I am truly grateful and I am still going strong.”
To buy a mask visit https://www.facebook.com/TiggyWere