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Rhydyfelin residents raising their poppy appeal

9 November 2023

Community | Sheltered Housing |

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For the past 3 years, Craft Club members at Library Court sheltered scheme have worked with the local Busy Bees knitting group and the Veterans group to create an unforgettable poppy display cascading down the side of their building.

With a mix of traditional red, purple and white knitted poppies, wooden poppy plaques, large soldier sculptures and some original artwork; the group has been busy preparing for Remembrance Day on the 11 November.

This year poppy fever has spread to the local pub and community centre who are now displaying the poppies and sculptures created by the group. Other residents in the area have also joined in by dropping off their poppy crafts and the club are thrilled with the response.

Jan Pocket, a member of the Craft club said: “It’s great to see the whole community joining in. We love making the poppies and they love displaying them. We’re really proud that our display has inspired more people to get involved and it’s certainly kept us busy. The girls have been knitting the poppies and sewing them onto the wire frame. Mike who is a veteran himself has been doing all the wood-work, cutting out poppy plaques and soldier sculptures out of reclaimed materials. It’s been a labour of love and is a great excuse to get together and have fun. I also do the cooking for the breakfast morning for the veterans each week and it’s great that we have a space we can all share and connect in.”

The craft club was formed after Trivallis opened the sheltered scheme in 2018. Many tenants felt apprehensive about moving into a new community with people they had never met before, but Suzanne Rees the Scheme Coordinator started the craft club as means for tenants to meet people with a shared interest. Suzanne was initially inspired by the poppy artwork at Windsor castle and challenged the club to put their own spin on it, resulting in the group knitting over 2000 poppies in the first year.

Now years later, the club has expanded to non-residents to help build more friendships and expand social networks and the display keeps getting bigger and more creative.

Gaynor Bolderson from Hawthorn is a member of the Busy Bee knitting group. Gaynor said: “The knitting group and the craft club are just wonderful. Before this I enjoyed knitting and crafting at home, but raising money for Velindre with Busy Bees and then supporting the Remembrance Day activities gives you a real sense of purpose and achievement.

“The club has been a real gateway to new opportunities. Suzanne the Scheme Coordinator knows everything that’s going on so we get involved in all sorts. We have entertainment nights, trips away, line dancing classes; it’s fantastic that there is so much to do. If anything there isn’t enough time to do it all which is a great problem to have.”

Once Remembrance Day activities have culminated with a playing of The Last Post at 11:11am on the 11 November, the groups attentions will turn to finishing production for their Christmas craft stall at the community centre on 09 December.

The group hopes that by selling some of their creations they can generate some income to keep the group going and even bring in some experts to learn new crafting skills.

Mrs Pocket added: “We have a lot of skills in the group already and we’ve learned a lot from Tik Tok and YouTube but we’d like to bring some experts in to help us learn new things and try something new.

“Sometimes I think people hear craft group or knitting group and they picture a group of old women in a dusty hall somewhere, knitting in silence. We’re nothing like that.  Our Monday craft clubs can be chaos in the most fun and entertaining way. If Suzanne hadn’t started this group and created the space for us to grow I don’t know where we’d all be, it makes such a difference to our lives.”