Hampshire knitters raise thousands selling 5,000 woolly crafted creatures
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 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.’
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Key facts about the RNLI
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.
The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.
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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries
Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.
The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland