Butchers at Hilgay, near Downham Market, are in stitches raising sew much money for the Norfolk Hospice

The village butchers in Hilgay are in stitches - literally, hundreds of carefully created stitches.

It's not every business in Norfolk that can claim an accolade like Dent's Butchers in Hilgay, where a knitted character has been created to represent the men in stripey aprons.

But then it's not every village which is trying to create its own woolly wall in a novel way to raise cash for a hospice appeal.

The wall will, in fact, be the railings outside the village shop which are to be adorned with knitted characters in the fundraising challenge.

The characters can be based on someone real, or can be completely made-up, it doesn't matter so long as the railings end-up packed with knitted critters.

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Knitters are being asked to pick-up their needles and create characters no bigger than 10ins (25cm) which will all be displayed on the woolly wall and judged on July 28. Prizes will be on offer for the winner and runner-up.

There is an entry fee of �1 per character and they can be taken to any of the Norfolk Hospice Tapping House charity shops or directly to Dents butchers. They will all be rounded-up and attached to the railings ready for judging.

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'It's a great way of raising money for the hospice, and is a bit of fun which will brighten-up the village,' said butcher Ali Dent.

'The ones we have already are great and are raising a smile,' he added.

The Norfolk Hospice, currently based in Snettisham, is raising money to create a new facility which will enable patients to stay at the hospice which currently only offers day care.

It has been operating since 1984 and helps more than 280 people every month.

A new building has already been started at a site in Hillington and fundraising is a crucial part of the work the hospice team undertake.

The planned �4m new hospice would serve the west of Norfolk and the Fens which currently don't have a similar facility available in the area.

Richard Shaw, chief executive of The Norfolk Hospice, has said the area the charity covers is one of the most 'deprived' in the country in terms of the level of hospice care.

Mr Shaw said: 'The people of Norfolk and the Fens urgently need and truly deserve the very highest standard of hospice care for everyone who requires it.

'Currently the NHS has its own hospice at Pricilla Bacon Lodge in Norwich which is an excellent facility for people in Norwich and the surrounding suburbs.

'But move to the north or to the west and the palliative care support is provided by a combination of six beds at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn and our hospice.'

Hilgay will be adding more support to the charity with the annual raft race which will be held on July 15.

Teams of six can take part in the fun races on the River Wissey. For full details and registration forms see the website address below.

There will also be a sponsored bike ride by King's Lynn's Foster Refrigeration on May 20 and a moonlight walk around Norwich is planned for Friday, May 25.

A charity concert, Singing in the Reign, will also be held on Saturday, May 26, in Snettisham.

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