A Teesside-based crocheting and knitting group that’s become a powerful force for good across the country has scooped a £5,000 top prize ahead of 14 other local causes.
Launched by ambulance worker Jo Owen just two years ago, Blue Light Babies is at the forefront of a national charity crochet and knitting craze to make blankets and hats for new-born babies – and twiddle muffs for those with dementia.
Blue Light Babies now has more than 5,000 people – including about 1,500 on Teesside – crocheting, knitting and now sewing for charity across the country.
Initially set up to provide North East ambulances with packs containing baby hats and blankets for babies born before they get to hospital, the group has expanded its work to provide twiddle muffs for dementia patients, trauma teds for North East police forces and clothes for babies in local neonatal units.
And the charity was announced as the £5,000 big winners in an X-Factor-style countdown when £20,000 has been shared between 15 local charities at Teesside Philanthropic Foundation’s latest £20,000 Golden Giveaway event at the Riverside Stadium.
A delighted Jo said: “We were the winners the minute we walked through the door at the Riverside because even £500 would have been massive to us. £5,000 was incredible.”
Blue Light Babies won the £5,000 prize after narrowly topping an online poll, just 14 votes ahead of another local charity, Remembering Rebecca.
Jo, who received the £5,000 in a presentation by Ken Devereux of Philanthropic Foundation patrons Devereux Transport, said: “When we realised at the event we were among the top two, it was so nerve-wracking. I’ve never fainted in my life but I was as close to it as I’ve ever been before the great news was confirmed.”
The cash boost will allow the group to further expand their nationwide work.
“The baby hats and blankets we make continue to be popular,” added Jo. “But the twiddle muffs for dementia patients are in demand across the health service, nursing homes and dementia units across the country.
“Fortunately, we have people crocheting, knitting and sewing for us from Lands End to John O’Groats and everywhere in between – and even a lady in Singapore.
“Many of our members are isolated or vulnerable but our group has motivated them to do something for other people, which is incredible.”
In a presentation made by Emma Simkins of Henderson Insurance Brokers, Remembering Rebecca received £2,500 towards their “sibling of the month” awards, celebrating amazing young people who help to look after a sibling who is ill, disabled or has a life threatening condition.
Personal patron Bill Scott presented a cheque for £2,000 to third-placed Teesside Samaritans towards a bus publicity campaign to recruit much-needed volunteers to help deal with more than 16,500 calls per month and many other activities to support local people.
Other presentations included:
- Sue Theobald of Barclays presented £1,500 to South Tees NHS Therapeutic Care.
- Yvonne Ferguson of Middlesbrough FC presented £1,500 to My Sister’s Place.
- Personal patron Jayne Stephenson presented £1,000 to Age UK Teesside.
- Nigel Willis of First Choice Labels presented £1,000 to Friends of Redcar.
- Ged Flanagan of Endeavour Partnership presented £1,000 to Jessica’s Smile.
- Dave Nicholson of The Nicholson Group presented £750 to both Liverton Village Hall and Billingham Environmental Link Programme.
- Personal patron Ian Stark presented £750 to Labyrinth Café in Stockton and £500 to Cleveland Women’s Network.
- Ruth Conner of Active Chartered Financial Planners presented £750 to The Trinity Holistic Centre and £500 to 1 Hart 1 Mind 1 Future.
- Bill Scott presented £500 to Hartlepool Carers.