Annie is on a mission to knit for Africa

Annie Lake
Annie Lake

A 91-year- old resident of Ratheane Private Nursing Home in Coleraine has gone ‘clicking crazy’ with her new hobby - knitting woollen blankets for a missionary hospital in Central Africa.

Annie Lake, who moved into Ratheane, part of the Macklin Care Group, a year and a half ago, had limited experience of knitting but decided to give it a go when balls of colourful wool and knitting needles were donated to the home.

The Coleraine woman took to knitting quickly and expertly and set herself the target of knitting one square per day – 40 stitches by 40 rows. Over an eight month period, Annie has knit up to 200 squares which Ratheane’s Activities Co-Ordinator Evelyn Joyce then sews together into blankets.

To date four large blankets in different shades have been sent to Chitokaloki Missionary Hospital in Central Africa, where they have been passed on to mothers and new-born babies. Two more blankets are ready to go and Evelyn is in the process of working on a seventh.

Evelyn explained: “We encourage our residents to stay as active as possible by pursuing various interests.

“I put out a call out for wool and knitting needles because I wanted to start a knitting group at Ratheane and some of the residents and their families donated stuff. A few of the residents took up knitting including Annie, but she is by far the most prolific knitter. She had done a little bit of knitting

before, but not much. Yet every day now, she sits in the lounge, clicking away with her needles. Annie set herself a target of knitting one square a day which she has managed to do since she took it up eight months ago. All together she has knitted about 200 squares, which I then sew for her into blankets.”

Evelyn said Annie’s age had been no hindrance at all to her knitting habit and that she was insistent on knitting every day.

“One of the nurses here has connections with the missionary hospital in Central Africa through her church and we decided it would be a nice idea to send the blankets over for the mums and new babies,” she said.

“When we told Annie what we were doing with her blankets she was very proud and delighted and determined never to miss a day’s knitting.

“She spends about two hours per day on each square. Sometimes she takes a wee break to read but then she picks up her needles and starts clicking again. She’s a real inspiration.”

Annie said: “I enjoy knitting and I’m very proud of my blankets. It’s nice to know they are going to a good home in Africa.”