Blanket harvest heads East

The knit-wits - from left to right: Janet Waddams, Eileen Baker, Sandra Lanigan, Sheila Ovens, Margery Nettle, Frances Filmer, Cecilie Prebble, Chris Emson and Gillian Roder

For the last few months, local knitters, crocheters and sewers have been working flat out to produce exquisite blankets for adults and children – now blessed during St Mary’s Harvest Service and on their way to the Middle East.

The blankets are part of Samara’s Aid Appeal, a local charity that provides humanitarian assistance for displaced people and refugees in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and the Middle East – which may be hot in summer but can  be very cold in winter.

The knitwits, who produced the blankets, meet on Mondays at St Mary’s at 10am and are an eclectic group of locals, each with particular skills and specialisms.

Verger Tony Dagleas and church cat Sylvester Frost survey the finished blankets from the pulpit. Sandra Lanigan is below left
Verger Tony Dagleas and church cat Sylvester Frost survey the finished blankets from the pulpit. Sandra Lanigan is below left

Eileen Bates and Frances Filmer are among the doughty stalwarts, turning up every week, powering through the knitted squares. Ginnie Festing gave a lot of practical support – as well as knitting, as she did a lot of preparation for, and clearing up after, the meetings.

Gillian Roder and Diana Hajikakou were the “sew-and-sews”, attaching the squares to each other to form the blanket – and we do not have sufficient space to list all the people that contributed. But anyone who saw the blankets displayed at St Mary’s over last weekend will have noted the quality and quantity of their work.

Sandra Lanigan, who organised the knitting group said: “There has also been a lot of help from other people. Several people that we didn’t previously know have attended one or two sessions as and when they could, and we are grateful for their work and company.

“Also many anonymous people have donated a lot of wool and squares. It has been quite normal for me to pick up a large batch of wool and squares on one day, only to find another pile in a couple of days’ time. We would really like to thank all those who have helped”.

The blankets are all labelled with a message in Kurdish and Arabic saying “made for you with love”. The knitting group will continue to meet and newcomers are always welcome.

Janet Waddams is the overall co-ordinator of the winter appeals, and more than 100 large boxes of good quality winter clothes have been collected and are on their way to the Middle East shortly.

Also displaying work at the Harvest Festival service in St Mary’s, where the blankets were blessed, was the Mothers’ Union as members have been making clothes for the premature baby unit at the Conquest hospital in St Leonards.


Photos: Seana Lanigan