Fifteen years ago, Jackie Hadfield and eight other volunteers from Francis House Children’s Hospice had the novel idea to knit and sell chicks to raise funds for the hospice. The chicks were so popular that in 2012 the charity began an annual appeal calling for knitters everywhere to help make a fluffy flock. Since then, the Easter tradition has really grown and last year the hospice received a record-breaking 8,452 chicks, raising a total of £11,133.
“Some supporters chose to knit and sell the chicks themselves, posting the funds raised to the hospice, so there were even more chicks involved than the 8,452 that we saw,” says Rachel Astill, Francis House fundraiser and Chick Knit coordinator. “I’ve heard from ladies who used to enjoy knitting but had no one to knit for any more as all their children and grandchildren had grown up. Now they’ve dusted off their needles and started knitting again; it’s been really fantastic.”
The largest number of chicks donated by one single knitter was 499 from a supporter in South Wales. During the final two weeks of 2015’s appeal, sacks and sacks full of chicks were arriving from Royal Mail every day. For each chick knitted, a Cadbury Creme Egg was needed to fill it! More than 8,000 eggs were kindly donated by individuals, local businesses, supermarkets, and cash and carrys. Staff at Virgin Media in Wythenshawe collected the biggest donation of 542 eggs. Support for the appeal comes from all across the UK, and chicks even arrived from France, Spain, Cape Town in South Africa and Brisbane, Australia last year.
This year the organisers are putting more of a creative spin on the appeal, inviting knitters to use as much colour as possible and send in unique chicks bursting with character. The chicks will then be sold in local schools and businesses for £1 each and will help towards the £3.6 million needed for annual running costs of the hospice.
Based in Greater Manchester, Francis House provides vital care for children and young adults with short life expectancies and offers a small amount of respite for the whole family. It’s a home away from home during such a difficult period. “We’re so grateful to the hundreds of knitters, plus all the businesses and individuals who donated eggs,” says Rachel.
See what thousands of chicks look like and take a peek at last year’s flock. For more information about Francis House Children’s Hospice 2016 Easter Chick Appeal and about Francis House, go to their website.