Great-great-grandmother creates Knittingale Hospital to raise money for NHS
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020
Norfolk’s newest hospital has been knitted by a remarkable 91-year-old to help the NHS
Welcome to Norfolk’s Knittingale Hospital. The woolly wonder was created by 91-year-old Margaret Seaman whose previous knitted marvels include Great Yarmouth’s Golden Mile and Sandringham.
Margaret, of Caister, near Yarmouth, spent lockdown knitting Knittingale to raise money for Norfolk hospitals. Her personal tribute to the NHS teams working in the county’s hospitals through the coronavirus crisis includes four wards complete with tiny patients, doctors and nurses, an A&E department, a helipad, beautiful gardens – and even a cake stall and parking ticket machines.
“I just thought, ‘What can I do to raise money?’” said Margaret. “People talk about being bored; I’m never bored. I can’t do other things that I used to - but I can still sit and knit, “ Her knitting projects have already raised tens of thousands of pounds for local charities and good causes. A recreation of Yarmouth’s Golden Mile drew crowds when it went on display and raised more than £13,000 for the Louise Hamilton Centre at the James Paget Hospital. Earlier this year Margaret’s astonishingly detailed Sandringham House raised thousands of pounds more to help four-year-old Anna Poppy Lawson of Bradwell who is fighting cancer. In previous years she has even raised money for charity on holiday - by taking her knitting and taking commissions.
“I have never got time to add it all up because I have always got too much knitting to do!” said Margaret.
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She began creating the knitted scenes to keep busy after the death of her husband, Fred, seven years ago. Margaret learned to knit as a child – taught by her twin brothers. “They used to knit their own socks and they taught me,” she said. With four children, 13 grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren and one great great grandchild she has done her fair share of knitting ever since but for the past few years all her efforts have gone on her creations for charity.
Her recreation of Yarmouth Golden Mile has been shown at craft fairs around the country and this spring Sandringham House was featured on Good Morning Britain with Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield. Now that Knittingale is finished Margaret plans to spend the autumn and winter adding to Sandringham.
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“It’s going to be twice as big, with the church, the museum, the stables and café,” she said.
Margaret works from sketches and photographs and loves adding quirky details for viewers to spot. Staff at the Knittingale include Dr Makewell and Dr Mendme and Nurse Woolly. “Making the rainbow stand up was the hardest part! And getting the right colours because I don’t want anything to be too garish,” said Margaret, who lives, and knits, with her daughter Tricia. A friend, Jan, helps knit the tiny figures which populate Margaret’s scenes.
Knittingale Hospital and the enlarged Sandringham are due to be at The Forum, Norwich in February 2021 as part of the Norfolk Makers Festival. Sandringham will then go on show at Sandringham itself through the summer – with the chance for the real Queen Elizabeth to meet her miniature knitted counterpart.
All money raised by the Knittingale Hospital will be divided between three Norfolk hospitals – the Norfolk and Norwich, the Queen Elizabeth in Kings Lynn and the James Paget in Gorleston. Visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/margaretknitsfornorfolk to contribute.
Knittingale in numbers:
3 months of knitting
34 balls of wool
59 tiny figures which each took 2 hours to make
£1,000s being raised for Norfolk’s hospitals