A woman from Yorkshire who asked strangers to knit and crochet blankets for patients at a hospice has been “utterly overwhelmed” by the response.
Emma Sutton’s mum, Maralyn Westwood, had a stroke six months ago and was admitted to hospital in Stockport, greater Manchester, before being transferred to an NHS hospice on 21 December. She sadly died on 30 December.
During her mother’s stay at The Meadows hospice, Sutton was not only touched by the kindness of the staff, but also the details which made her time “a little easier to bear”, such as a floral duvet instead of just white hospital sheets.
As a way to say thank you – and give other patients the same home comforts – a couple of days before her 81-year-old mother died, Sutton shared a photo of a poster on the ward asking for knitters and crocheters to make colourful blankets to comfort patients.
Sutton shared the appeal on a Facebook crochet group and six people volunteered to help, so she decided to put it on Twitter too.
“I thought I might double the number,” she tells HuffPost UK. “I truly only expected tens of people to help – and mostly my friends, rather than random strangers from around the world.”
Today, three days later, it has been retweeted more than 16,000 times and she says she can no longer keep track of how many people have promised to help.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it ran into hundreds by the end of the year,” says Sutton, who has now started a hashtag #BlanketsForMaralyn and is asking people to share photos of their creations so she can make a collage.
I wish my mum was here so I could tell her this incredible story...”
In March the family will hold a celebration of Maralyn’s life – Sutton says her mum loved the seaside, narrow boats, musicals, singing, Wimbledon, ‘Strictly Coming Dancing’ and her family. At the event Sutton wants to create a wall of photos of the blankets for her friends and family to see.
“The response has been amazing, overwhelming, heartwarming, inspiring and a little heart-breaking, because I wish my mum was here so I could tell her this incredible story,” she says. “She would have loved to know her death would have such a tremendous impact.”
Sutton says the response from Twitter has turned one of the most painful days of her life into the start of a new and uplifting story.
On New Year’s Day Sutton gave her own blanket to the ward after teaching herself how to crochet. “The staff were delighted,” she says. “They mentioned that they often let the family take the blankets or shawls away, as mementoes of their relatives.
“The shawls and blankets mean more than just a warm lap. They remind the patients of home, of handmade love as well as providing soft warmth to cuddle. Not just for the dying but their family too.”
Other people from across the UK have already started sharing their creations on Twitter using the hashtag Sutton created.
One person said her 10-year-old daughter had just started knitting and joined a knitting group with friends. After seeing Sutton’s tweet, they vowed to make blankets for those in need.
Another said she was already knitting blankets for those living with dementia in care homes but would continue to do so after seeing the impact it was making.
Blankets or shawls can be sent to the hospice at Bluebell Ward, The Meadows, Owens Farm Drive, Stockport, Greater Manchester, SK2 5EA.