Hampshire knitters raise thousands selling 5,000 woolly crafted creatures

Lifeboats News Release

A group of avid knitters from Hampshire have stitched their way to success after making and selling thousands of hand-knitted items – raising a whopping £4,500 for the RNLI.

The popular saying proclaims “a stitch in time saves nine”, but 30 of the 43 members from the Hythe and Waterside Poppy Ladies group have proved a stitch in time can actually save lives at sea.

The ladies spent 10 months knitting fish, seagulls, squid and other sea-themed items, before putting them on display and bringing to life an iconic iron railing in the Hampshire village of Hythe.

Thanks to a week of charity collections throughout the week-long residency, and the subsequent sale of the items, the group has raised a phenomenal £4,500 for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

Members of the Hythe and Waterside Poppy Ladies raised funds for the Royal British Legion in 2014, by knitting and crocheting bright red woollen poppies in the run up to Remembrance Sunday. But for 2016, they wanted to switch their stitch and try something new.

Knowing that nearby Calshot lifeboat station was part of the wider RNLI charity, the group though the RNLI might ‘needle’ little help!

Maggie Riddett, one of the group's members, said: 'We want try to help local charities and one of our past members decided we should support Calshot lifeboat station. We knew the lifeboat crew are all volunteers who risk their own safety to help others, so we wanted to raise funds for the RNLI".

‘We decided to knit sea-related items and used 16 different patterns to make octopi, squid, seagulls, stingrays, jellyfish, conch shells, starfish, yachts, and lighthouses, among others. We started in August 2015 and by May this year we’d knitted and crocheted a total of 5,745 individual items.

‘More than 200 balls of wool – weighing 100 grams each - were used, and we worked out some of our members spent more than 500 hours knitting or crocheting the items!’

Once the collection was complete, 4,500 of the woven wonders were hung on the railings of Prospect Place in Hythe, a 100-yard stretch of iron railings at the heart of the village.

Maggie said: ‘130 seagulls were hung in a tree, 150 small birds and 100 small fish were made into lapel pins. We stood with collection buckets by the railings every day for a week, and we raised more than £2,700 in donations from curious passers-by, local people etc. Then, since taking down we have been selling them off, which has raised a further £1,400 for the RNLI.

‘We’re really pleased with the response and are so glad to be able to help the RNLI continue its lifesaving work.’

The group still have more than a thousand of the items left and plan to sell them at Calshot RNLI lifeboat station’s open day on 10 July. Maggie said the group anticipate the final total raised for the RNLI will be more than £5,000 – every penny of which will help the charity save lives at sea.

Diane Carrier, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Calshot RNLI, said: ‘What a wonderful, colourful and thoroughly unique way to raise money for the RNLI! The sheer craftsmanship of this venture, the attention to detail and the time and effort put into the knitting and crocheting is fantastic.

And Roseanne Blaze, Community Fundraising Manager for the RNLI in Hampshire, said: ‘We are so grateful to all the members of the Hythe and Waterside Poppy Ladies group, they have really done us proud. The way their display brought to life the railings was fantastic, a real sight to behold. No wonder so many people donated – who would walk past railings bedecked with thousands of hand knitted items and not want to stop to find out what on earth was going on! Well done to everyone, we really appreciate the support.’

RNLI media contacts

• Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/East/South East) on 0207 6207426, 07785 296252  tim_ash@rnli.org.uk
• For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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