Chance brings royal dolls back to New Costessey maker

Resplendent in their finest wedding gear and accompanied by the pet corgis, they are the a testimony to the skill and patience of a Norwich woman who wanted to do something different to commemorate the royal wedding.

But when the 10 knitted dolls portraying the Royal family on Kate and Will's big day went up to be raffled for a good cause recently, no one expected a quirk of fate would bring them back to their creator.

Elsie Johnson, 73, spent ten weeks and hundreds of hours at her home in New Costessey making the dolls, who are decked in exactly the same gear as those worn by their real-life counterparts on the big day.

The grandmother, who started knitting when she was ten years old, said: 'I heard about a book showing how to make the dolls on the radio, but when I got it and saw the knitted patterns I thought I could do better than that and it took off from there.

'It took me five weeks before the wedding, starting with William and then Kate and it really took over. Getting the features and expressions was the hardest thing.'

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Ahead of the wedding, Elsie joined the world media in the quest to find out what would be worn by whom, but as the church bells rang she realised a whole new wardrobe would have to be made for all her creations. The effort took five weeks.

With William's uniform transformed into an Irish Guard outfit, they found their way to Sandringham Flower Show, and ready for a raffle in aid of raising money for the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind. Then along came Elsie's next door neighbour.

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Lesley Amiss had been invited to the Flower Show by a friend and thought before leaving she'd buy a ticket to lend her support to the cause.

'I had seen the dolls before and I thought they were really good,' she said, 'and Elsie grabbed me and asked if I wanted a ticket.

'I didn't have an inkling what would happen next so I went home, and when she came round the next day the first thing I asked was 'didn't they go?''

They had gone. In fact nearly 100 tickets had been sold. It just turned out they had returned to street in which they had been born.

'I mean what are the chances?' asked the 67-year-old, 'I don't have a place for them so I returned them to Elsie, who can now raffle them off again.'

The family, and their dogs, will now be up for raffle once again at the St Giles Church fete in Norwich on Septmeber 3, and raising money for the church.

'It's lovely to have them back, they're like part of the family, but it will be good to see them raise money again,' said Elsie.

•Do you have a quirky story? Call Evening News reporter John Owens on 01603772439 or email

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