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 Saltburn’s “Knitting Nannas” make soldiers and poppies to commemorate 80th anniversary of D-Day

Saltburn’s “Knitting Nannas” make soldiers and poppies to commemorate 80th anniversary of D-Day

By 4th June, 2024 Press Releases No Comments

SALTBURN’s “Knitting Nannas” have been creating woollen soldiers and poppies in support of a tapestry project marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

The club of elderly knitters at Hazelgrove Court Care Home, on Randolph Street, has been producing the little figures for The Longest Yarn, an 80m long knitted tapestry.

The project includes 80 panels of knitted scenes from the Second World War Normandy landings, with contributions coming from around the world.

The finished project is being displayed in the Notre-Dame Carentan, in Carentan-les-Marais, north-western France, until 1st September 2024.

The knitting club at Hazelgrove Court Care Home, named “The Knitting Nannas”, got involved after the home’s activities coordinator learned of The Longest Yarn project on social media.

They have sent over 40 knitted poppies and 25 miniature soldiers so far, with a further 25 soldiers still in production.

They are being sold on The Longest Yarn Etsy shop to support the project, which will be touring Europe, outreach activities, and various veterans’ charities.

Joyce Wooffindin, 83, is one of the Knitting Nannas. She said: “You have made my life worth living through this project.”

The project was also an opportunity for the care home’s residents to share their memories of the War. Joyce added: “I was only three on the D-Day landings and can remember my dad talking about the prisoners of war.”

Betty Wood, 100, said: “I can remember D-Day. I lived in South Africa at the time and remember that two South African soldiers received the military cross for gallantry in action.”

Joyce Baxtrum, 93, said: “I remember listening to Eisenhower’s speech on the radio when he talked about the landings. I’ve loved knitting these little soldiers and poppies every day.”

Ellen Else, 93, said: “My dad was a vicar and I can remember us praying for all the soldiers. It’s been lovely doing something so worthwhile with the project.”

The Knitting Nannas received a parcel of French biscuits and a thank you card from the project organisers as a gesture of appreciation for their support.

Residents at Hazelgrove Court have also been sending handwritten thank you cards to D-Day veterans via The Handwritten Letter Appreciation Society, which set up a project called The D-Day 80 Thank You Card Drop.

They were sent the names of two veterans: Clifford Brown, who served on a mine-sweeping ship in the Royal Navy; and Peter Middleton Lovett, who served in the 3rd Canadian Infantry, which landed on Juno Beach, one of five beaches of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France on 6th June 1944.

Sheila O’Neill, 83, wrote to Peter: “I want to praise you for being one of the many men who landed on the beaches in Normandy on D-Day 6th June 1944. Your bravery helped liberate our country. Thank you very much. My prayers will always be with you.”

Sharon Lewis, activities coordinator at Hazelgrove Court Care Home, said: “Our Knitting Nannas are absolutely loving this project.

“It’s giving them a huge amount of pleasure but they are aware that it’s being done to remember D-Day and has brought up a lot of memories. We’ve had lots of discussions around this.

“It’s fantastic the residents are taking part in a global project as D-Day involved soldiers from so many different countries.

“Everyone is so excited when I tell them how popular their knitted soldiers are. It’s a real labour of love for everyone.”

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