Hundreds of knitters from all over the world have answered a Gloucestershire widow’s call to craft hearts for a special knitted garden in memory of her husband.
Clare Young, 50, from Gloucester, has been overwhelmed by the huge response to her ambitious plan to create the world’s first full-sized knitted show garden installation at RHS Malvern Spring Festival on May 10-13.
Her plea to knit 10,000 hearts for the garden has been shared and re-shared on social media and people from as far away as Texas, New York and Arizona in the USA and Auckland in New Zealand have picked up their knitting needles in response.
Amazingly four crafters, now known as ‘Queen of Hearts’, have created 1,000 hearts each. As a result, a staggering 20,000 ‘works of heart’ have been sent to Clare – doubling her target well before her early May deadline.
Clare, who turned to knitting to help cope with her anxiety and depression after her husband Ken died, has been deeply moved by the huge swell of support for her Work of Heart garden.
She said: “I never ever in my wildest dreams believed we would get such an incredible response to the knitted garden. At first I was worried we wouldn’t meet the crazy target of 10,000 hearts I had set myself for the installation, but a week after we launched packages started arriving.
“Some days have seen sackfuls of bundles delivered, all containing beautifully crafted hearts. I have been completely blown away by the love, care and remembrance put into each stitch.
“Many parcels have been sent with small notes or cards where knitters have shared their own stories of love, loss and bereavement.
“What started out as a small seed of an idea has grown into something much bigger. The knitted garden has really ‘wool balled’ and that ball of wool has reached out and connected people right across the globe. It’s almost as if me being brave and talking about my grief and struggle with my mental health since my husband’s death has helped others talk about their loss too. The garden has started to offer bereavement-to-bereavement support, something I never expected.”
The knitted hearts will hung in and around the knitted garden at RHS Malvern, with some of the additional hearts made available for festival visitors to purchase as a special reminder of the Work of Heart garden and to take away to hang in memory of a loved one somewhere special to them. The money raised will go to Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice in Cheltenham which cared for her late husband Ken.
Clare said: “I hope our creation will repay the support and love shown for the project and the hearts which everyone has so kindly being created will help raise much needed funds for the hospice charity that cared for my husband so beautifully.”
In what would have been Ken’s 50th birthday year, she’s hoping the hearts and fundraising at RHS Malvern will help raise £50,000 for the hospice.
Her incredible installation measuring 4m by 4m will go on display at RHS Malvern Spring Festival from May 10-13 and will include a hospice bedroom overgrown with knitted plants known for their healing properties. It will feature lavender, used by complementary therapists in reflexology treatment for patients at the hospice, and rosemary as ‘rosemary for remembrance’ was a saying Lady Ryder, the founder of the Sue Ryder charity.
Elise Hoadley is Hospice Director at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice. She said: “Clare has been working so very hard on creating and promoting her beautiful hand knitted garden in tribute to her husband and everyone at the hospice has been blown away by the response she has received. We’d like to encourage as many people as possible to support Clare by going along to see the knitted garden at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival in May and sponsoring a heart, or by making a donation in support of her amazing creation online if they are not able to visit the garden at the festival.”
Head of Commercial at Three Counties Showground Suzy Hillier said: “RHS Malvern exemplifies excellence in gardening and values the role horticulture plays in our health and wellbeing. The saying goes “A beautiful garden is a work of heart’ and this created a compelling synergy for the ‘Work of Heart’ garden to be featured at the Festival. We’re delighted to able to showcase this unique installation. We expect more than 100,000 people to attend the festival between May 10-13, giving them the opportunity to see this once in a lifetime creation.”
To get behind Clare’s fundraising effort and make a donation please visit http://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/workofheartgarden
For more information on the Work of Heart Garden in support of Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice visit workofheartgarden.org, like www.facebook.com/WorkofHeartGarden on Facebook or follow @WorkofHeartKnit on Twitter or 'workofheartgarden' on Instagram.
For more information about RHS Malvern Spring Festival please visit www.rhsmalvern.co.uk