Hello everyone

Well, as you can imagine, the newsletter is going to contain less news from fewer people this time!  I do hope you are all well & staying safe from the wretched virus.  No doubt, like me, you have not been able to pass things on because of COVID-19, apart from a few things locally.  I have spent a lot of time answering queries from all over the UK from people who want to keep busy & do something useful during their time in lock-down.   If I can, I pass them onto you depending on where they are.  Many of them are happy to post to a distributor.  Many thanks to those of you who have agreed to receive items in this way.   Please do let me know if a) you want me to stop or b) if anyone else is happy to receive things too.    

I’ve also had a lot of enquiries from high school students in America who want to do something for people in their own country.  I understand they are encouraged to participate in community work at around age 15.  I try to help by giving them ideas of where they could donate the things they make.  This comment is typical of their interest:- “ I would like to see the patterns for a teddy bear, blanket square, glove puppets.  I would love to give away my hand-knitted products to my local children’s hospice. Thank you for your help.”

Diana Griffiths (Warwicks)  A huge thank you to Diana for all the support she has given to ‘Teddies for Tragedies’ over the last 24 years.   However, she is continuing to collect & distribute woollens to local charities, so I hope she will keep us up to date with this.   Remember – I call this the ‘Knitting Newsletter’ now, because so many of us have diversified into other things as well as teddies!  We look forward to hearing from you again soon, Diana.    

Carole Thorn (Spain)  Here in Spain all is well as long as you stick to the rules because if the police stop you, there is an immediate hefty fine if you are breaking the rules.
I always wear my mask when I go out and just remove it to eat or drink, as the bars and restaurants have now reopened which gives us a bit more freedom.
Of course we haven’t had any ‘knit and natter’ get togethers but I did see our organiser the other day and she says she hopes to start soon.
I am knitting but rather slowly at the moment as I had a fall in January and broke my collarbone.   It’s mending quite well and I’m now up to being able to do about 6 rows in one sitting whereas at first I could only painfully manage one.
On wards and upwards though and I hope all our ladies are staying safe.

Susan Mulligan (Yorks)   Early in the year I had sent 150 teddies and 24 jumpers to Africa.  In March I had a large consignment ready to be despatched and was caught by the sudden lockdown.  I have 300 teddies, jumpers, blankets, and children’s clothes ready to go, all sitting in a spare bedroom.  I have had quite a few teddies arrive in the post and by courier from new contacts passed on to me by Chris.  It is good to know that the web site is being looked at.  I have received parcels from as far away as Perth in Scotland,  Port Erin in the Isle of Man, Somerset, Norfolk, Filey in East Yorkshire, Lancashire as well as from nearer home. It’s just a pity that postage is expensive.  Some people are waiting for an end to lockdown before they send or deliver their teddies so I am looking forward to lots more arriving.  As soon as possible everything will be on the way to Africa.

Tricia Gibb (St Albans) I hope this finds everyone well and coping well with the coronavirus lockdown situation.  Let’s hope that things will be back to normal before too long, including travel.  With almost all flights grounded, Teddy travels are not happening of course and there are probably lots of children in the world who could do with a bit of cheer right now.

Many people have, of course, used the time spent at home during the lockdown to take up new activities,  such as making face coverings or, judging by the number of new knitters who have sent me Teddies during that time, teddy knitting!  Thank you all knitters, old and new!

In January money was raised by a local charity to purchase a mini-bus which was then driven from St Albans to the GAMBIA, via France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania and Senegal.  It will be used in the Gambia at a school for deaf children to transport the children safely to the school from the outlying areas.  The bus was purchased in Europe as apparently it is hard to find reliable vehicles in the Gambia at the same price.  As well as lots of other items for the school and spare parts for the bus they took a bag of 50 Teddies.  The children “absolutely loved them”. 

At the beginning of March I contacted another local charity working with various projects, including education and health, to help children and young people in extreme poverty in Uganda, Ghana, India, Nepal, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.  They collected 500 to go with a shipment of aid to a slum area of Kampala in UGANDA.  Unfortunately, due to the lockdown here they have not yet left the UK and it might be a while before the shipment can be shipped as Uganda is currently in lockdown too. 

NB. On 11 June I received a parcel of 28 Teddies but there was no note to say who had sent them.  If that was you, please could you get in touch so that I can thank you properly!

Sue Hoskinson (Bucks)  The ‘Big Knit-In’ for Hope and Aid Direct on 7th March was really well attended,  I am thrilled with the result.  Folk came and went all day and I felt I had some time to spend with all of them, particularly the ones who had travelled a distance.  I appreciated Rector David joining us….. and knitting too! Our non- knitting ‘support group‘ worked brilliantly to  serve us  with teas & coffee, soup and of course CAKE.  For those of you who aren’t from Hardwick, this village is very good on cake! 

  1. Approx £1400 was raised Including gift aid for Hope and Aid Direct.
  2. Enough squares ( Around 1300 ) for 20+ Blankets all of which will be delivered by Steve to  Charles Storer in Essex – founder of Hope and Aid Direct.  Chas will take them to Greece when it is safe to do so after the current increased unrest. 
  3. DK wool donations will keep us going for a long time.
  4. My UK ‘square knitters’ distribution list has doubled, seeding new knitting groups in various parts of the country. 
  5. Several non knitters have been taught and recruited! 
  6. Best of all there has been an increase in awareness of Hope and Aid Direct and the wonderful work they do for the poor peoples who, through no fault of their own, are caught up in these terrible situations.

Participants thought it a good idea if, in future, folk bring their knitting to the monthly church teas (‘Chat & Cha’ on third Monday of the month 2.30pm to 4.30pm St Mary’s Hardwick).

I managed to get some 20 blankets via neighbour Steve to Chas in Essex. I am now storing at least 25 more in my loft awaiting delivery to him and then on to Lesbos when the convoys can go out there. 

This beautiful blanket was made entirely of squares knitted by Mary Hogarth in Blackpool and assembled by neighbour Linda. 

Barbara Blundell (Fylde, Lancs)  Barbara is also retiring from ‘Teddies’.  At 89 I think she has deserved a well-earned rest, although she is still continuing with things for her local neonatal ward.   She says:  “I have enjoyed collecting all the knitteds.  It’s been a two headed project really – supplying comforts to people in need and providing an enjoyable and useful pastime for the retired or housebound.  Happy that Sue will carry on collecting and distributing the work of our Fleetwood Library Group, although she will have plenty to do when the library reopens!  Due to lockdown output has been considerably increased.” 

Thank you Barbara for all your hard work.  

Welcome to Sue Gorrie who is very kindly taking over from Barbara & has sent the following report:-

Our small but dedicated band of crafters continues to produce a range of knitted and crocheted items for various charities.

The premature baby unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital has been grateful for our contributions of neonatal garments, blankets, bonding squares, cannula cuffs and small toys, including knitted decorations for the ward.

The local branch of the Alzheimer’s Society has thanked us for the colourful twiddle muffs, and the “Worry Monsters” have been welcomed by primary schools, therapists and our local Hospice.   These ‘Worry Monsters’ are weird looking creatures, with a pocket mouth, so that any child with worries and a bit reluctant to verbalise them could write or draw about their problems and post them to be devoured by the monster. Originally they were made with children in mind but several grown-ups have requested one!   The ladies loved making them and we must have produced about twenty.

We have made hats and scarves for the homeless and lovely warm blankets for the needy people in places like the Balkans, Romania and Moldova. Some of our knitted goods go to the Gambia, via Preston City Mission.

Children’s jumpers and cardigans and babywear continue to be made for International Aid, along with teddies and small toys. At present there are 6 very large bags waiting to be delivered when permitted!

Some teddies were taken to the local Fire and Rescue Service and we were able to provide small items such as hats, scarves, mittens and toys for the shoe box charity, with one of our members sewing fabric pencil cases, bags and purses.

We have kept in touch during lockdown and members have been busier than ever with their needles and hooks. I’m sure there will be a table full of wonderful items when we next meet!

Wendy Glasgow (Glos)   I have knitted a Batman doll with hearing aids for a little boy in the village.   He hated wearing his as ‘super heroes do not need hearing aids’.   His mum is hoping he will wear them now.  
I was asked to do a Tigger for a friend’s grand-daughter, as the one she has is very tatty and I did a Cinderella topsy- turvy doll for a little girl with Autism.
In between helping people in the village who are vulnerable, I also knitted a lot of squares for a local dog shelter.

Welcome to another new distributor Sue Bearcroft (Cornwall)   She has very sensibly started by investigating outlets for her teddies, etc, before trying to encourage local knitters.  She says “I will be needing 100 Teds for October (going to Lesvos) and another 200 for the Spring for the David Livingstone charity (Philippines and Uganda).  He has a tent at the Royal Cornwall Show every year and will be happy to fill his car with teddies. 

Richard Lander Secondary School, Truro, will take 70-100 next Spring when the students go to Uganda.

OHOB UK (Devon) were so enthralled by the Teddies story that they want me to be involved in their new project which is a story about a refugee rabbit.  They want knitted animals to go with the story and are working on a pattern which they will send over to me (slight panic setting in here!) so that my knitters can start producing said animals!!!!   OHOB stands for Open Hearts Open Borders.  Their website is www.ohob.org.uk and has some info about the ‘Rafi the Refugee Rabbit’project.

Our local Police might take a few (waiting for confirmation).   Truro Rotary are involved with ‘The Molly & Paul Child Foundation’ (Kampala) so the Rotary Sec will enquire for me.   I’m waiting to hear back from our local Soroptomists, our ambulance service and the Salvation Army.  I haven’t yet tried hospitals/care homes.” 

(You have done a fantastic amount in a short time, Sue.  Congratulations!  It may well give some of us some new ideas of where to find outlets.  If anyone has any spare teddies to help Sue build up her stock, do let me know & I’ll put you in touch.  Chris)

Kate Gaunt (Fife) Loving Hands group. We have been sending our teddies to Lochaber Support Refugees – they give them to the Syrian refugee children who have suffered so much trauma.

Pam Johnson & Elaine Jones (Shrops) Knit for Life group.  In line with most charities during these very strange times, distribution has been problematic.  Just prior to the lockdown, in February, we were able to deliver 37 twiddle muffs, 187 jumpers of all sizes, baby clothes, scarves and hats to Woollies for the World in North Wales.  In spite of the lockdown, we did manage to send 25 blankets to a Paediatric A&E department in Middlesbrough.  Then everything ground to a halt for a while and we turned our attention to Sewing for the NHS, making scrubs, mask extenders and laundry bags for local hospitals and care homes.  As the restrictions ease, we are gearing up again and shipped 10 boxes of aid to ‘Knit-a-Square’ in South Africa last week including blankets, blanket squares, hats and hand warmers together with 290 toys, many of which were knitted teddies.   Just yesterday, as I write this report, we posted 74 blanket squares to Sue Hoskinson in Berkshire for ‘Hope and Aid Direct’.   Meanwhile, the Dementia Unit at our local hospital is in need of blankets and comfort toys – octopuses! – for their patients and we are hoping to make a delivery soon.  Our monthly volunteer meetings at Oswestry Library have had to be suspended but will resume as soon as the local council gives the go-ahead for libraries to open again.  We hope it will be soon……

(I just LOVE your multi-coloured octopus!  I’ve been given pastel coloured ones for babies, but what a great idea for dementia patients too. Chris)

Mary Leech (Surrey) Just before lockdown I met with Jenny West in Guildford at her mother’s house (Pauline West) and from her collected a bag of 100 teddies. These are now destined for the ‘Quicken Trust’ in Uganda, but so far haven’t made it further than the Trusts UK headquarters in Sussex. So, they are almost on their way!  I got the impression from Jenny that she isn’t really doing much for TforT these days, and was very pleased for me to take the teddies. 

I now have another 17 (plus bags) sitting looking at me and wanting a home.  I don’t mind letting my stocks accumulate, but would obviously prefer to be able to send them off towards their new homes. So if you can tell me of anyone who needs them, I can get in touch or parcel them up and send them off.   In the meantime, they look nice lined up on the settee!

Finally, from me in Kidderminster (Worcs)   At the beginning of the year the Notre Dame Refugee centre in London was given 30 teddies & 30 puppets, along with donated men’s & ladies’ clothes & shoes.  In February I sent baby blankets, cardigans & hats to the neonatal unit of Birmingham City Hospital.   I also sent baby clothes, blankets & 12 octopuses to Worcester Royal Hospital.

During lock down I was pleased to be able to post 2 large parcels of baby clothes & blankets to be shared between the Birmingham Children’s & Women’s Hospitals via the ‘Warm Baby’ project.  So much attention has been paid to COVID-19, that other departments are having shortages of things they need too.   I’m hoping to be able to get more to Birmingham City Hospital in the autumn.

Also in February 14 large hats & 4 neck warmers were posted to the Sailors’ Society in Southampton & more were sent in May.

Just before the lock-down started we were fortunately able to make up a huge consignment of donated adults’ & children’s clothes along with 100 teddies, 120 puppets, 38 blankets, 2 sacks of jumpers (some with hats & mitts), 1 of cardigans, 1 of baby clothes, 4 of hat, scarf & mitts sets.  This all went to HIHFAD (Hand in Hand for Aid & Development) in Birmingham, as they were sending out a container to Syria that weekend.  I do hope it was able to go.

While in Birmingham, we took teddies & pencil cases to the Quakers in Kings Heath for the ‘Hlekweni’ project in Zimbabwe.   59 large drawstring school bags for the ‘Friends of Monze’ charity in Zambia were delivered at the same time.

The following week, very naughtily, 2 days before the official lock-down began, we took a similar load to the Yorks Aid Convoy warehouse in Leeds.  They were due to go to Romania at the beginning of May, but obviously haven’t been able to do so yet.  At least all the things are now with them ready to go, rather than in my house! 

So…….. I hope you will have been able to get some more ideas of where you can source outlets for your teddies & other knitted goodies from the contributions above.

I look forward to hearing news from many more of you in the coming months.  Do let me know what you are doing at any time.  I’ll save all snippets for the January newsletter.

Regards, Chris