People from all over the world have sent Manchester children’s hospice thousands of woolly chicks

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A Manchester children’s hospice has been inundated with over forty thousand woolly chicks handcrafted by generous knitters in response to the charity’s annual Easter ‘chick knit’ fundraising appeal

Francis House Children’s Hospice in Didsbury has been receiving the fluffy donations from hundreds of local supporters from around the world for months. As Easter gets nearer, they are arriving by the sack load.

After passing through quality control to fix any loose beaks and to ensure that they can hold an egg, the hospice’s fundraisers and volunteers stuff the chicks with a small chocolate egg donated by local businesses, schools, and supermarkets.

The chicks are then sold for £1 by businesses and schools. The money raised will help towards the running costs of the hospice which provides services to support children, teenagers and young adults with life-limiting conditions and their families.

Seventeen years ago, eight hospice volunteers started the annual chick knit. Their ranks swelled in 2012 after an appeal was launched by the charity in national knitting magazines and on crafting websites.

Last year’s appeal generated almost £27,500 from over 19,500 knitted chicks. This year, 761 knitters have crafted more than 40,000 chicks which the hospice is confident will raise more than £36,000.

“Every year the response is fantastic, and this year it has been overwhelming,” said fundraiser Rachel Astill.

“I’ve even started dreaming of the chicks. It’s been great fun seeing the incredible variety in the chicks people knit. Each seems to have its own personality. The biggest challenge has been keeping the balance between the chicken and the egg – we don’t want any empty nests come Easter.”

Maria Dunbobbin from Cheadle Hulme knitted 400 unique chicks with hats and accessories – with no two chicks the same – whilst Sharon Wilkinson from Gatley single-handedly stuffed and sewed thousands of chicks by volunteering at the hospice for weeks.

The furthest flung chicks were 30 from a knitter in Texas and ten from Florida. Chicks also arrived from Cyprus, France and Spain.

“Next year we hope to get even more of the community involved and it would be great to find more volunteers to help with stuffing, sewing and deliveries of chicks,” said Rachel.

Find out more about Francis House at a public open day at the hospice on Monday May 8.  For more information call 0161 443 2200.

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