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Denton woman, 85, helps recoup the cash for hospice with Easter ‘chick knit’

Knitters from around the globe picked up their needles after an appeal by Francis House Children’s Hospice to send in characterful knitted Easter chicks and bunnies.

Staff at the hospice in Manchester were ‘egg-static’ when a final count revealed a whopping 35,000 chicks had flown through their doors.

The cute creations are filled with a small chocolate egg, donated in their tens of thousands by schools, supermarkets and local businesses before being sold across the region for £2 each.

Not all of the chicks arrived ready for sale however and a band of volunteers including a great-grandmother from Denton, set to work repairing crooked beaks, missing eyes and saggy bottoms that couldn’t hold a chocolate egg. 

Beryl Wood, aged 85, made a daily 15 mile round trip to the hospice in Didsbury from her home in Denton to collect the occupants of ‘chick hospital’ and single-handedly mended more than 1,000 chicks.

She said: “When they showed me the chick hospital, I picked out two chicks which were beautifully knitted but one had an eye on the side of its head – I couldn’t believe it! Other knitters I think are using an old pattern from when the eggs were bigger, now they’re smaller the eggs fall out. I’m happy to do the repairs as they bring a smile to your face.

“If I’m not knitting chicks for Francis House, I’m making hats for premature babies or homeless people. My mum taught me to knit when I was seven and I love it. I can watch the television and talk to people when I knit, my hands need to be doing something.”

Beryl’s house is so packed full of craft materials that she can ‘hardly move’ and she even took her knitting on holiday to Australia. “There’s no point sitting and not knitting,” she says.

The Francis House Easter Chick Appeal helps to fund the hospice’s vital work in caring for children and young adults with life-limiting conditions and offering support and respite for the whole family. This year the fundraising appeal is expected to raise more than £55,000.

Rachel Nasiri, fundraising officer at Francis House said: “Our Easter Chick Appeal is unique in that it involves not just our wonderful knitters but the whole community going all out in their support. Businesses and individuals collect and donate creme eggs, dozens of volunteers pack the chicks into orders and heaps of fantastic venues sell the chicks and bunnies - it’s a huge team effort.”

When Beryl’s husband Geoff died 27 years ago, the neighbours collected £680 and Beryl didn’t hesitate in donating the money to Francis House, receiving a letter of thanks from Sister Aloysius the founder of the hospice.

“So long as what I’m doing with my life has no negative impact on anybody, I just do what I like. I am very lucky that I’m healthy and have wonderful family and friends. We’re on this earth to do good and if I can help an amazing charity like Francis House I’m really pleased to help out,” she said.

Francis House provides care to the families of children and young adults with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions - services include respite care, homecare, sibling support, end of life care and bereavement support.  

Rachel added: “The funds raised through this year’s Easter Chick Appeal will go a long way in supporting the work of Francis House. We rely on the community's goodwill to continue our services; it is very reassuring in this difficult fundraising climate to see so many supporters like Beryl still prepared to to give their time, efforts and money to help our hospice."

Anyone hoping to buy a chick while stocks last can visit a Google map of 70 vendors https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1xiqdKy8KvNWbC9gvRb-77A2EhggvgQ4&usp=sharing

 

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