April 23 2014 Latest news:
Friday, March 30, 2012
Two great-grandmothers have delivered the latest piece of kit to hundreds of Norfolk-based soldiers about to be deployed to Afghanistan – 400 hand-made neck warmers.
Joan Garraway started knitting balaclavas for the troops four years ago after writing an appeal in the Eastern Daily Press for volunteers to support the Swanton Morley-based Light Dragoons.
Anonymous donors started leaving their contributions at Dereham wool shop Knit Wits, but the team has since boiled down to three hardcore enthusiasts, including her Derby-based daughter Vivienne Overton.
Second world war nurse Beryl Kerrison, 93, phoned Mrs Garraway after reading the story and enthusiastically joined the effort from her home in Eccles on Sea, near Stalham, and has kept her knitting needles clicking ever since.
Their efforts were immediately appreciated.
Gus Fair, who then commanded the Dragoons, wrote to tell Mrs Garraway he had worn a balaclava on manoeuvres, and it was “just the job”.
A framed photo of two troops wearing her goods in Afghanistan now sits proudly on Mrs Garraway’s mantelpiece.
The 88-year old former matron said: “I’m pleased as punch when they write to me. I’m straight on the phone to Beryl to tell her. We are so pleased because they know someone is caring about them and thinking about them back home.
“They wore them over their goggles and under the helmet and it stops the cold on the head at night because the trucks are open. They said they had terrible head aches and this helps.”
Mrs Kerrison said: “I have been an incredible knitter all my life, and I just have to have knitting going on all the time.
“I felt I was doing a good job for them. It satisfies me that I’m helping.”
Mrs Garraway said she knitted while watch television, and thought about her three brothers’ experiences in the army, navy and air force during the war, and the equipment they would have wanted.
She took the latest consignment, a box bulging with 400 khaki neck warmers, to the Robertson Barracks at Swanton Morley on Monday March 27.
Accepting the consignment, Major William Leek thanked the team for their efforts, which he said the troops much appreciated.
He said: “We are doing our job out in Afghanistan but knowing the public is supporting us on a human level is very important.
“It gets very cold at night. Something like that, it’s home comfort. A piece of kit that when you are used to having it, it becomes part of your routine and it’s a great comfort to have something like that.”