From superheroes to Easter chicks - knitting in aid of hospice

Jan Smith, Saint Francis Hospice volunteer

Jan Smith raises funds for the hospice by knitting bespoke characters. - Credit: Saint Francis Hospice

I have been a volunteer at Saint Francis Hospice for five years and I helped on reception, in the volunteer hub and I now work two days from home for our confidential telephone service OrangeLine.

I am so lucky to work with a fantastic team and we are like family.

I have also been fundraising for the hospice by knitting bespoke characters and figures in return for a donation. I’m so proud that I’ve been able to raise more than £4,000 to help local people and I have no plans to stop.

The fundraising began back in June 2017 when my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer, my mum was in King George Hospital and my dad in Queen’s Hospital. I was totally devastated and thought my world was coming to an end. I totally shut off, I have never cried so much. I started knitting to help as I felt so numb.

I knitted chicks and then I knitted loads of items which I sold at a stall at the Saint Francis Hospice Christmas Fayre. Since then I have been knitting non-stop.

Last Easter 2020 I was given a pattern of Peter Rabbit. I made lots of figures and everyone loved them.

After that, the Covid pandemic took over and I felt I had to do more to help the hospice. I played around with my pattern and came up with a nurse with a mask. What a success it turned out to be!

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Since then requests for all sorts of figures from policemen to superheroes have come in. It’s been really amazing and my friends Lynda and Hilary have come on board to help with the knitting orders.

I never dreamed knitting would become such an important part of my life and I would love it so much. And it really has been a community effort. I’m so grateful to all the local supermarkets who have donated items.

I know the knitting has helped bereaved and isolated people. I have also made so many new friends and met so many wonderful people, many of whom have lost loved ones at the hospice and really want to support the charity.

I’ve already started knitting Easter chicks and orders are coming in. Any donations of double knitting wool would be appreciated and anyone who would like to make a request or place an order can email me at

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