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Anglesey knitting group keeps lifesavers warm at sea

A blind and partially sighted knitting group from Holyhead presented hand-made red, white and blue scarves to Anglesey RNLI crews at a recent Seafarer’s Service in July.

The Knit and Natter group made over 40 scarves for crew members from all four of RNLI’s lifeboat stations in Anglesey in the charity’s signature colours. The scarves were presented at St Cybi’s Church in Holyhead on 7 July in a service thanking those who volunteer to help others.

The knitting group was founded by RNIB volunteer Fay Jones, from Holyhead. Fay has sight loss due to macular degeneration and is passionate about making sure blind and partially sighted people in the area don’t feel isolated. The group is open to anyone living with sight loss and their friends, family and carers. Volunteers are also on hand to help with tricky stitches.

Fay said; “I first started knitting 50 years ago with my mother. I was a brilliant knitter and embroiderer. I gave up for a while in my twenties but took it up again in later life and loved knitting Arran patterns. But when I lost my sight 14 years ago, I thought I’d never knit again. It felt like a bereavement.

“Fortunately I had counselling from RNIB over the phone and it helped me to adjust to life with sight loss. I took up knitting again three years ago and it is so much fun, so I started the Knit and Natter group to help other blind and partially sighted people in the community to come together and chat over our knitting needles. I still drop stitches now and then, but luckily our lovely volunteers are there to pick them up!

“The group really enjoyed making these special RNLI scarves, and we are so grateful to everyone who turned up to the Seafarer’s Service. It was a fantastic way to honour the crucial services of volunteers across Anglesey and a wonderful day out.”

Fay also runs a Listening group for blind and partially sighted people in Holyhead, which gives people a chance to meet others living with sight loss and listen to stories together. It has been so successful that Fay has now set up another group in nearby Menai Bridge. Fay received an MBE for her work in fundraising for Ysbyty Gwynedd before her own sight loss diagnosis and won the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) Volunteer of the Year Wales Award in 2018.

Tony Price, Coxswain at Holyhead Lifeboat Station, said: “Receiving the scarves from the Knit and Natter group was such a kind gesture, and was really appreciated by our Anglesey crews. The Seafarer's Service was a proud occasion for all of us RNLI volunteers, who provide a 24/7 search and rescue service on our mission to save lives at sea.”

RNIB Cymru’s Director Ansley Workman said: “It is so important to raise awareness of the outstanding dedication of volunteers across Wales. Congratulations to Fay and the Holyhead Knit and Natter group for their great work on the scarves and the event itself.

“The Knit and Natter group offers blind and partially sighted people in Holyhead the opportunity to socialise, get out and about and learn new skills in a supportive and friendly environment. Many people with sight loss are at risk of feeling isolated, which is why social groups like Fay's are so important.”

The Knit and Natter group meets at Holyhead Library every other Monday at 1pm. For more information contact RNIB Cymru on 029 2082 8500.