January 2020

Hello everyone

A long newsletter this time – a lot has been happening!

Diana Griffiths (Warwicks)  Teddies, tops, scarves, baby clothes and hand puppets have gone to Chinthowa Development Trust, Malawi and the Butterfly Tree in Zambia.    
Blankets have been distributed to the Salvation Army Hostel.     “Helping Hands” a local charity  helping needy families and the homeless have also accepted blankets, jumpers, hats , scarves and hand puppets.   Hats, scarves, mitts and hand puppets also went into the Christmas Shoe Boxes.
After 24 years collecting and despatching approximately 28,000 teddies I am reluctantly retiring from the Teddy Project but will still collect woollens for local charities.      I have so enjoyed my time with “teddies,” meeting so many super knitters but the best bit has been the lovely photographs and stories from the many people distributing to the children. “Teddies for Tragedies” is a wonderful project, bringing so much joy to so many children some of whom had never, ever had a toy.
I so enjoy the Newsletter and reading about all the wonderful work everyone is doing, the project has certainly grown since I first became involved.
Very best wishes for the continued success of the project

Wendy Glasgow (Glos) The Charfield yarn bombers are getting quite well known around the area for our various displays in the village. We did various Beatrix Potter scenes as well as covering a bike.  When the display was finished some of the items were donated to the local air ambulance charity. They asked us if we would knit figures of their crew and an ambulance – we did a 2 metre long helicopter with movable rotors and 27 crew and 1 mascot. Both the local news and radio were interested and we appeared on the local news as well as giving an interview to a local radio station. The charity has had various requests to show the items at shows around the county which have made a lot of money for the charity.  We decorated the village again with over 20,000 poppies for Remembrance Sunday. For Christmas we knitted a 6 ft Christmas tree and decorated it.  It has become a great hit with the village.

Greta Collier (Johannesburg, S,Africa)  The Knitting & Crocheting group – ‘KnitWits 4 The Needy’ celebrated our annual Christmas Brekkie after another year of creating garments and blankets for our destitute and needy brothers & sisters.  It was our last handover of the year and was for a Home for Abandoned Children – ‘Bushveld Mission’ in Vaalwater, Gauteng.
We continue with like-minded hearts and hands reaching out with love by continually donating our knitted and crocheted articles to those desperate folk.
We are also always creating woolly goodies for Çarolyn Steyn’s organisation ’67Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day’ and are presently busy with the attached blanket which will be sewn together for the Guinness Book of Records and in 2020 will be displayed in Port Elizabeth (where our Rugby Captain Siya Kolisi was raised – often going without food and bare necessities in his childhood.)  The idea for  this blanket was after the South African Rugby Team (the Springboks) won the Rugby World Cup in 2019).    It is all made up of 160cm x 160cm blankets (as you can see each square on the picture is 160cm sq.) So it will measure almost 2 acres in size.  This blanket will then be dismantled for distribution to many poor and needy folk.
On 23rd May 2020 – ‘KnitWits 4 The Needy’ will celebrate their 5th anniversary.

Carole Thorn (Spain) Once again our ladies have been busy with their knitting all the year.
I have to admit to not having been to as many meetings this year but I keep in touch and do my knitting and take the garments in when I have finished them.
This year jumpers and cardigans and little knitted dresses for the children in the Preventorio mainly. That is a children’s home in the town of Gandia which is near here.
Also I know some of the ladies have been knitting for the premature baby unit at the hospital.  So we keep plodding on with our good works as I know all your other contributors do.   Best wishes to everyone for 2020 – and keep knitting!

Ellen Hills (Herts)   Outreach Sewing Group, Harpenden.  This last year in February we sent 500 items of blankets, cardigans, large & small jumper vests, hats, mittens, baby cardigans, bootees, small hats, & in September we sent another 400 items.  These were collected by a vicar from Cambridge to be sent to the Ukraine. We also sent nearly 200 teddies to the ‘Riding for the Disabled’ to give the children confidence.   A neighbour’s daughter teaches at a school in Uganda; they have no toys or pencils.  One of my ladies knits toy puppets (they are just like small animals) which lie flat in a suitcase, & she was very pleased to take them.  We hope to get more done in June.

Susan Mulligan (Yorks) I have recently had enquires via e-mail from eight prospective new knitters.  To date I have received teddies in the post from Dumfries,  Taunton, Somerset and some delivered from Sheffield.  I am expecting a local delivery this week and the other four will be sending some in the future.  These enquiries have all been a lovely surprise.   I have sent off 800 teddies and 30 Toddler jumpers to Africa and I have quite a lot more ready to check and pack.

Lesley Hunt (Wilts)  Not a lot of news from my neck of the woods.  Amanda Hislop has been having all my teddies and sending them to her various charities.

Tricia Gibb (St Albans)  NEPAL was the destination for 75 Teddies in July. They were taken there by a group of students from a school in Aylesbury who were involved in various projects at a school as well as interacting through sports and games with the children, aged between three and 13 years.  The Teddies were handed out to children in the pre-school class. Also in July 500 Teddies went with students from a local school to CAMBODIA, where the children “ . . absolutely loved them and it was a pleasure to see the joy in their faces when we handed them out . .”  In January I was pleased to supply 280 Teddies for distribution in a home for homeless children in BANGLADESH, who have been abandoned on the streets and have nowhere else to go. Another 70 Teddies have since gone to Bangladesh and were handed out to children at pre-primary schools on the tea estates adjacent to Sylhet city.   Again thank you all for your support and I hope you like the photos, including one from Mercy Ships who took 500 Teddies for SENEGAL back in June.  Future requests so far: 40 for summer 2020 and 500 for summer 2021.

 Barbara Blundell (Fylde, Lancs)   Another successful year thanks to the kindness, efforts and hard work of all of our members.  Several large bags of woollies have gone to International Aid.  There were some lovely warm jumpers, hats, teddies ,teddy hand puppets and several absolutely wonderfully knitted and crocheted blankets.  They will be most welcome in the Balkans where there is much poverty in the remote areas.  We continue to send tiny garments, hats, blankets and little toys to the Prem Baby Ward at Victoria Hospital, Blackpool where they are much appreciated.   One of our members has knitted over three hundred Twiddle Muffs for the Alzheimer’s Society and another lady has, over the years, made over three hundred matinee sets.  They go abroad and are much sought after. We have also made some Worry Monsters to help children who find it difficult to talk about any problems.  Some have gone to the Reception Class at a Primary School and others to a therapist who finds them very helpful in her work.   Many thanks to the Fleetwood and Poulton Library Groups, Thornton Methodist Church and all the other ladies busily working at home.  A big thank you also to Jill for her wonderful help with distribution.   Together we make all this possible!  Best Wishes for 2020.

Sue Hoskinson (Bucks) Squares keep coming … thank goodness and we have sent a constant supply of single blankets made up by Linda Driscoll out with Hope and Aid Direct to Greece. Messages from Chas regarding the appallingly overcrowded conditions in the Refugee camps in Lesvos and Samos have been particularly distressing.  Last week my neighbour Steve delivered 12 blankets plus sleeping bags and tents donated after a plea to our village.
After receiving some images showing the conditions the refugees are enduring in Greece I wanted to do a bit more …so …on 7th March 2020 we are  holding a BIG KNIT-IN in our village hall for Hope and Aid Direct and hoping  that folk will join us, sponsor a knitter for the day or just send us some extra squares.  All details and a link to Virgin Money Giving are on the Hope and Aid Direct website http://www.hopeandaiddirect.org.uk events.

Very many thanks to all my knitters and have a Happy & Healthy New Year 2020.  

Pam Johnson & Elaine Jones (Shrops) Knit for Life Group.  Since the last newsletter, we have sent two further shipments of aid to Knit-a-Square in South Africa which included the equivalent of 193 blankets, along with 756 hats, 520 toys, hand-warmers and knitting wool.  Many of the toys were knitted teddies which continue to bring joy to their grateful recipients.   We continue to support Operation Sabre which is run by Shropshire Fire & Rescue and were able, thanks to the generosity of our local WI, to donate lots of toiletries and gifts for distribution to care homes in Romania.  We were also delighted to be able to support an appeal by the staff of Chirk Castle for 6 inch squares.  These were sewn into blankets by volunteers and distributed to struggling families in the Wrexham area over the Christmas period.  The food bank in Oswestry was also working to provide, not just food, but also warm clothing and a few luxuries to local families and we were able to donate hats, gloves, scarves and yet more toys as Christmas presents for the children.  Finally, we have sent in the region of 300 squares to Sue Hoskinson in Buckinghamshire for Hope & Aid Direct.

Our monthly meetings at Oswestry Library continue to attract volunteers in the area who help us tidy and sort the squares we receive.  Several of the volunteers take squares home with them to sew into blankets – usually whilst watching television!  We are always very grateful to our enthusiastic and hard-working ladies.

Finally, from me in Kidderminster (Worcs)   In the last 6 months I have sent:

  •  a large box of baby clothes, including donated babygros, 30 teddies & 20 puppets to The Mayan Midwives charity in Guatemala.
  • 60 teddies & a fantastic 140 pencil cases (72 also containing gift tags) in May & a further 50 teddies (with tags) & 75 pencil cases in September to the Hlekweni project supporting 4 schools in Zimbabwe.  These are given to children just starting school.
  • 110 large bags to ‘Friends of Monze’ which is a small charity based in South Wales. They build and equip schools for orphans and vulnerable children in the Monze area of southern Zambia.   “The children at our schools are very poor.  We provide exercise books as many children cannot afford to buy them.  It is very important educationally for the children to take their books home to share their learning with their parents or carers.  Even if the families cannot read and write, they can encourage the children, and children can share their books and learning with the family and younger brothers and sisters.  Many children do not have backpacks – they manage with broken old plastic bags so books get damaged (see pic right).  Your bags will help with looking after the books and give children pride in caring for their books.” 
  • 160 teddies, 190 puppets, 3 sacks of hat, scarf & mitts sets, plus 3 of hat & mitts, & hat & scarf sets, 47 blankets, 3 sacks of jumpers, 2 sacks of cardigans, 1 sack of baby cardigans/hats & 1 of ladies’ knitwear to HIHFAD (Hand in Hand for Aid & Development), a Muslim charity based in Birmingham which sends aid into Syria.  All this was accompanied by 4 sacks of donated clothes & shoes for children & adults, plus 12 sacks of brand new donated children’s fleeces!
  • 110 Fish & Chip jumpers have gone to Africa via the local Soroptomists’ group.  “Thank you so very much.  We have just delivered a load of vests and hats, birthing sheets to Hoima in Uganda and they are very grateful.  The UN has been so pleased with the reduction in neo-natal mortality that they have asked them to do the same in Rwanda.  So everything is still needed.  Many thanks to your stalwart knitters.”
  • a large parcel of woollies for merchant seamen to Sailors’ Society in Southampton.  “A woolly hat is a basic item of clothing, yet, for a seafarer who spends 9-12 months at a time on the cold & sometimes frozen seas, this is a must-have.  Many seafarers are used to warm homelands & the northern seas & UK can be a cold shock.  For them, a hat is a simple but priceless gift.  It tells them that they have not been forgotten & that someone cares about them.”
  • many items including 207 teddies, 160 puppets, a sack of fish & chip jumpers, 4 of baby jumpers & cardigans to Sanyu Babies Home in Uganda, Chinthowa Development Trust in Malawi & Butterfly Tree in Zambia, plus 13 blankets & a sack of scarf & hat sets for another charity in S.Africa.
  • lots of blankets, octopuses, tiny cardigans, hats, vests & waistcoats, & angel wraps to the neonatal units of 4 local hospitals.
  • 53 twiddle-muffs, 16 twiddle lap-mats & 17 twiddle-bags to 5 local care homes, & to the dementia units of 3 hospitals.
  • 110 puppets, a sack of hat/mitts sets, 2 sacks of hat/scarf/mitts sets as well as donated pencils, crayons, notepads, soap, jewellery, balls & small toys to Operation Christmas Child shoe-box appeal; 20 small teddies, 80 puppets, a variety of other knitted toys (mice, monkeys & dinosaurs!), plus the same pencils, etc as OCC, 22 cot blankets, a sack each of cardigans, baby jackets, & hat/mitts sets to another shoe-box appeal, Teams4U.  They send to the Ukraine & are able to take a much wider selection of items, many of which are used as packing around the shoe-boxes en route.

With the new Teddy website up & running, I now spend a lot of time answering queries from all over the UK (& even from New Zealand, Australia, S. Africa, Norway & Canada!!) about where people can donate their knitting.  There is so much goodwill out there which is very heartening.  However, there are large parts of the UK where there is no distributor, so it is difficult to advise what people should do.  You may be able to help me – if you have friends or family in other parts of the country who would be prepared to receive items & then pass them on to you, that would be SO helpful.  (My brother in Suffolk brings me things from several ladies in East Anglia when he comes to visit.)  Do PLEASE let me know if you could help in this way.

 So……..a wonderful amount of love & goodwill has gone out into the world these last months.  Thank you all so much for everything you do.

Regards, Chris

Some more delightful photos from Tricia Gibb.

Mercy Ship