An image of Rachel Astill and the chicks

Francis House charity receive knitted chicks

In News by Salutions


Bumper brood of knitted chicks flock to children’s hospice

A 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 based in Didsbury, Greater Manchester, has been receiving the fluffy donations from hundreds of local supporters from across the region and nationwide for months, but in the run up to Easter 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 chicks are stuffed with a small chocolate egg by the hospice fundraising team and a band of volunteers.

Sharon Wilkinson from Gatley, has single-handedly stuffed and sewed thousands of chicks by volunteering at the hospice for weeks.

Businesses, and over 60 schools and nurseries are supporting the campaign and selling the chicks for £1. The money raised will help towards the running costs of the hospice, currently at over £11,500 a day to provide services to support children, teenagers and young adults with life-limiting conditions and their families.

Last year’s appeal generated almost £27,500 in income from over 19,500 knitted chicks, and with donations exceeding expectations this year, the hospice is confident that total will be smashed.

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

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

Francis House Chick Knit facts:

Total number of knitters 761.

Total number of chicks 41,302. If stood beak to tail, would stretch just over 2,950 metres! The difference in the distance between the highest point of Mount Kilimanjaro at 5,895m and Mount Everest at 8,848m.

The largest amount of chicks by a single knitter – Janet Radford from Guildford, Surrey with 725.

Maria Dunbobbin from Cheadle Hulme knitted 400 unique chicks with hats and accessories – with no two chicks the same.

In total individuals, local businesses, schools, supermarkets and Cash and Carry’s donated over 36,500 crème eggs.

Staff at Sky in Stockport collected the biggest donation of eggs with 2,052.

Springfield Primary School in Sale sold the most chicks with 900.

The furthest flung chicks were 30 from a knitter in Texas. Plus 10 from Florida and chicks also arrived from Cyprus, France and Spain.

It is hoped the campaign will raise more than £36,000 for the hospice.

For anyone wanting to find out more about Francis House, there is a public open day at the hospice on Monday 8 May 2017. For more information call 0161 443 2200.