Hello everyone

A Happy New Year to you all!  Many thanks to everyone who has sent me news this time.

Wendy Glasgow (Glos) Wendy has been working extremely hard at setting up our new Teddies for Tragedies website over the last months.  Although she’d originally planned to do it all herself, she felt it would be better to get professional help.  The designers very kindly agreed to reduce their costs from £1,000 to £400 as we are a charity.  Wendy & I were prepared to halve this between us, so very many thanks to those of you who have generously donated a total of £260 towards it.  One of the advantages of the website would be a list of charities around the UK, where people could take their knitting to direct.  Or they could contact Wendy via social media or me by email for help.  I would then contact a distributor to see if they could help.  We are hoping that the website will be going ‘live’ in a couple of weeks’ time, so I will email everyone when that happens.

Jean Salter (Oxfordshire) Cholsey WI & Creative Club.   Here in Cholsey we have had a very busy 6 months. We delivered 19 blankets to Hope and Aid Direct and have made over 100 Teddies for Teddies for Tragedies.
In addition to this, involving more ladies in the village, we knitted over 1200 poppies for the village Armistice Commemoration.  The village Green was decorated with 1000 poppies and the rest were made into brooches and sold on behalf of the 2018 British Legion Poppy Appeal. We raised the amazing sum of £845!   

Also, a display of 1-0-0 was made up of 67 individually named poppies representing those Cholsey men who gave their lives in the Great War.

Carole Thorn (Spain) Our group of knitters in Moraira Spain continues to flourish.  We have gained a few new members and a couple have left us to return to live in England.  We support most of the local charities that ask for donations, mainly Alzheimer’s, premature baby units and a children’s home which was in need of jumpers from baby to teenage.
We still meet fortnightly and contribute to the pot each time for our supplies of wool which we send for from the UK as the ply and quality seem to us to be better than the Spanish or that available in all the Chinese stores.  I think that rounds us up and we will continue knitting and nattering.

Anne Jones (Northants) By the end of 2018, I had sent 14,662 teddies to various countries, the latest batch to Armenia via a Baptist group in Southampton. We also send knitted blankets, tops and hats. 

Susan Mulligan (Yorks) I have sent 800 Teddies, 24 jumpers, 5 blankets, 20 girls’ dresses. 5 shirts and 20 T shirts, all to Africa .  Everything, except the T shirts which were bought, has been made specially.  Also about a 1,000 sanitary towels were sent.

Lesley Hunt (Wilts) 12 teddies have been sent to disabled children in Stelpe in Latvia.  “The older boy LOVED his, and the bag, his mum was so thrilled .  Other teddies will go to the Sunday school, and  to other small children.”

Kate Gaunt (Fife) Loving Hands Group.  The ethos that is the mainstay of the group is to help people keep warm with knitted, crochet or sewn items that are given with love and never sold!  We make everything from burial items for tiny babies who do not survive, to knitted ‘boobs’ which are used to teach breastfeeding in UK hospitals, blankets, knee rugs and shoulder wraps for the elderly, fiddle mats and muffs for dementia sufferers, hats for sailors, warm clothing for the homeless and for children living in freezing conditions in places like Serbia, Ukraine and Moldova.  As well as this, our makes have gone all over the world, as well as the UK, including Kenya, South Africa, India, Sri Lanka, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Gambia, Croatia, Romania etc.  We also supply dog and cat rescues with blankets, coats and knitted cat-nip mice!  Our members send teddies to Mercy Ships.

‘tricia Smith (Cumbria) Having rather reluctantly had to relinquish control of the website (I can’t thank Wendy enough for taking it on), I’m now active in a local charity knitting group, enjoying making things, rather than searching for homes for teddies.  In the last six months the group have sent blankets, hats and glove puppets to a children’s cancer ward in Malawi, an ongoing project.  Also before Christmas we gave a score of wrist warmers and some hats to a homeless charity in Carlisle.   Finally, glove puppets, hats and jumpers are packed to go to Uganda in January.   The photo right is a pet blanket I made from all the odd-shaped squares I’ve been given over the years: not exactly square but my cats don’t mind and many an animal rescue centre would be grateful.  I’ve also made 3 octopus for a lady with severe learning difficulties who just loves octopus.  Our group raises money via coffee-mornings to help transport items and accepts donations from tourists!  So… if anyone is thinking of visiting the Roman Wall on holiday, make sure you go through Gilsland on a Tuesday afternoon, have coffee at The House of Meg and say hello, that’s where the Gilsland and Greenhead knitters meet. Gilsland has the best mile-castle on the wall and some of the easiest access, so no excuse!!

Tricia Gibb (St Albans) In July a group of students from a school in Aylesbury went on a World Challenge expedition to Borneo. As well as trekking and sightseeing, they spent several days working alongside a local community in the remote area of Mulu. They took 120 Teddies with them, the majority of which were distributed at a nursery. The remainder will be stored and given out to new children as they start school. Another group of students from Aylesbury will be going to Southern Africa next summer and have already asked for more Teddies to take with them. In the summer, a party of local students went on a trip to Tanzania.  They spent some time living and working with a local community where they helped with tasks such as constructing compost bins, building pig pens, helping to develop vegetable gardens and work on a water pipeline.  Thanks to them, 500 Teddies have found new owners in Tanzania (pic left).  A further 200 Teddies went off to SYRIA in September in another convoy of aid with Syria Relief, making a total of nearly 2,000 over the past three years to Syria. They are always so pleased to receive them.

Greta Collier (Johannesburg, S.Africa) Our group is called ‘KnitWits 4 The Needy’.  Since the last newsletter we have sent lots of beanies, booties, vests, gloves, scarves, bedsocks & blankets to ‘Rays of Hope’.  This project, started 28 years ago, now has a network of 9 community-based projects, focussing on education, orphaned & vulnerable children & work-readiness, partnering with the communities to bring about lasting change.  More baby clothes have gone to the ‘Mother of Peace Home for Children’; beanies, jerseys & blankets to a Methodist church school for orphans in Swaziland; blankets, beanies & teddies to the ‘Lambano Home’ for children with threatening illnesses. The one home which really ‘broke our hearts’ was the ‘Door of Hope’ for abandoned babies.  This home has a hole in the wall with a steel box – both at the front entrance and the back entrance.
When mothers are absolutely desperate – they can place their babies in the box in the wall.  It is monitored by a camera and an alarm – which goes off to alert the carers that a baby has been dropped off in the hole in the wall.  The babies are then collected and brought into the family to be cared for.  They are either adopted or at the age of 3 are moved into Door of Hope Village.  This is Deirdrey Xulu and myself dropping off all our cot blankets, beanies, jerseys, etc for the children who reside there.

Our next project is to keep on knitting blankets and scarves for ‘67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day’ as they will be having a display of their blankets on 25 March before they are donated to the poor.
This organisation also has a Secret Scarf Mission which we are knitting and crocheting for. These scarves are displayed either in trees or on street-poles for needy folk to help themselves. They have a label attached which says ‘if you need me please take me’. This will be held before winter starts in S.A.
On 27 January at the Linder Auditorium-  which seats over 1,000 people – ’67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day’ will be attempting a new Guinness World Record by having as many crocheters in the same place, crocheting for 27 minutes. (67 represents the number of years that Nelson Mandela was in politics and 27 represents the number of years he was imprisoned.)

Sue Hoskinson (Bucks)  Continued support for Hope and Aid Direct (latest Convoy news can be seen on http://www.hopeandaiddirect.org.uk) comes from all over UK.  I have just sent the latest batch of single blankets to Chas Storer in Essex – very kindly taken by my neighbour Steve. These will go on the next convoy to wherever they are needed.  Included were a load collected from Sue Ormaston in Kendal whilst I was up in the Lakes on holiday.   Many thanks to all those who have sent squares and to Linda Driscoll who has worked so hard to join squares and produce so many lovely blankets which will keep folk warm during the winter

Jan Brown (Suffolk) We have sent teddies to Mission Direct who operate largely in sub-Saharan countries, but also take in Cambodia & South America too, so who knows where they’ll end up!  Teddies have also gone to ChikenKata Hospital in Zambia via a nurse who spends her holidays taking medical equipment, the occasional doctor & helping out there.  We have sent several knitted blankets to Christian Hope International who operate mainly in Eastern European countries.  In addition, we make craft items like aprons, Advent calendars, woolly hats, card & fabric boxes, etc, to raise money to help finance our Charity Christmas Tree Festival here in our church, which supports the charities who take part.  But there are always more things to be made, more people to help, more funds to raise.  Oh – for more time, more energy & a second pair of hands!!

Barbara Blundell (Fylde, Lancs) Thanks to the continued efforts and kindness of all our knitters, we have been able to help and support many people wherever there is a need.
It’s been a wonderful year. We have received lots of beautifully knitted and crocheted articles.  We have delivered ten large bags of jumpers, blankets, hats and matinee sets to International Aid where they were very welcome.  On the home front, three boxes of prem baby garments and blankets have gone to Victoria Hospital , again they were most appreciated.  Several Twiddle Muffs were taken  to the Alzheimer’s Society and four dressed baby dolls to a Care Home where they were immediately adopted and loved by some of the residents. We also provided glove puppets, scarves and toys to help a local lady fill some Shoeboxes for the Christmas Appeal.

John Scruby (Cambridge) I’ve just been told by the Gloag Foundation that due to the extreme costs of shipping donated items to Africa they have closed their Perth warehouse, so they no longer want my knitted pullovers. This is a shame as, over the last year, I have accumulated about 36.  However, I have been given details of Christian Hope International in Harold Wood, Romford and have already contacted them and they will be pleased to receive my pullies for onward transmission to Eastern Europe.,

Pam Johnson (Shrops) Knit for Life Group.  Our monthly gatherings in the local library meeting room continue and are such a help.  We have a regular group of about 12 ladies who tidy the ends of the many hundreds of squares that we get at Knit for Life.  They also sew squares into blankets and do any remedial work needed on donations.

Last year we seemed to receive as many donations of clothing and toiletries as knitting and we have found good outlets for everything with various charities both in the UK and abroad.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Finally, from me in Kidderminster (Worcs) Locally, lots of small blankets, vests & prem baby clothes have gone to the neonatal depts in local hospitals.  The Sailors’ Society in Southampton has had hats & neckwarmers; local care homes & hospitals have received twiddlemuffs & mats, & very poor local communities a sack of children’s jumpers, a sack of very large knitted toys (including sheep & teddies!), puppets, hat, scarf & mitts sets, a sack of donated baby clothes & lap-blankets for the elderly.  Lots of puppets went into OCC Christmas shoeboxes, as well as sets of hats & mitts.  Another shoebox charity called ‘Teams4U’ had 125 small teddies (allowed in their boxes), plus 2 sacks of hat & mitts sets.

In October I received an urgent appeal for toys, with this message: I set up the charity ‘The Pendsey Trust’ back in 2011 after visiting India and realising how terrible the situation is for children with Type 1 diabetes in the developing world.  We are totally volunteer run and raise money to fund medication for the kids, as well as helping to fund school scholarships and vocational training.”  Lucy was going out within a week from Surrey, but I was able to post 35 puppets which got there just in time (see pics). 

In Uganda, the ‘Sanyu Babies Unit’ has received 2 sacks of baby clothes too, as well as 2 sacks of ‘fish & chip’ jumpers, plus a lot of donated babygros, etc.  170 more ‘red teds’ have gone out to Africa with the ‘School in a Bag’ project.  The ‘Butterfly Tree’ charity in Zambia has had 100 puppets & 20 blankets, as well as 80 large teddy bags (but for school items, not teddies!).

100 puppets, 52 little jumpers, 24 blankets, plus a sack of donated baby clothes were sent to Yemen.  Unfortunately, the Yemeni customs are demanding high payments to let the goods through, so this outlet is no longer operating.  I hope to be able to send via another charity instead soon.

40 Puppets were also taken to Zimbabwe by a lady who sent this cheery photo (right).   “We visited a school and luckily I had enough for the whole class. The teacher gathered them all together to sing for us with a puppet. “

Hlekweni project in Zimbabwe received 290 teddies & 169 pencil cases! “Everyone has been so amazing to knit so much.  This will probably be the only toy the children will have – so really well loved.  So a BIG THANKYOU to all your knitters and sewers.  It really does make a big difference.”

Romania – a full car load was taken to the Yorks Aid Convoy in Leeds, on our way to a holiday at the end of September.  This included: 100 teddies in bags, 130 puppets, 3 sacks of jumpers, 1 of hat & scarf sets, 3 of cardigans, 1 of ladies’ knitwear, 54 blankets, plus donated teenage girl’s   clothes, ladies’ coats, 2 duvets & covers, 2 sacks of bedding.  Hopefully this will all be taken to Romania by volunteers next Easter.  The photo (right) shows happy children with their teddies delivered earlier this year.

‘Hand in Hand for Syria’ has taken a large consignment (100 teddies in bags, 100 puppets, 2 sacks of hat, scarf & mitt sets, 1 sack of hat & scarf sets & 3 sacks of jumpers).

‘Care UK’ also collected a van full of items for the refugee camps in Lesbos – 280 teddies, 150 puppets, 52 blankets, 4 sacks of jumpers, 2 of cardigans, 1 of baby clothes, 2 of hat, scarf & mitt sets, 2 of hat & scarf sets, plus 10 sacks of donated men’s, women’s & children’s clothes, shoes & boots, 6 large blankets, 3 sleeping bags & 3 backpacks.  Whew! As you can imagine, I was VERY relieved to move all this on to where it is so desperately needed, & get my house back!

Thank you for all your contributions, & congratulations on all your distributions!

Regards, Chris