The Blanketeers

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Facing the looming death of her terminally ill mother in hospital, Susi Long felt a crushing sense of powerlessness. But when a knitting group made her mother a simple blanket, Mrs Long realised how even the smallest things can have the biggest impact.

Susi Long holds the blanket her mother Jean Faithfull died beneath.

It is soft and thick and vibrant in pink, orange and turquoise.

When Mrs Long thinks of her mother as she lay dying in hospital, her memory is not one of tubes, machines or the crisp austerity of hospital bed linen. It is of a loving mother leaving this world beneath the warm comfort of wool and a kaleidoscope of hues.

“The vision I have of mum is of her asleep in her blanket,” she said.

The blanket was crocheted by friends of ward sister Sarah Sands.

Knowing how much that blanket helped her and her mother in those final days gave Mrs Long the impetus to team up with Ms Sands to form a knitting group dedicated to providing end-of-life comfort to terminally-ill patients.

Two years on, and the main room in an otherwise nondescript temporary building on the periphery of Colchester Hospital fills with the faint tapping of needles against a stacked rainbow backdrop of wool of now complete blankets.

The group meets fortnightly on Saturday mornings. The idea behind the Blanketeers is simple: members create blankets in every colour and pattern imaginable and families of the dying are invited to choose whichever one they like. This ability to make a choice in a situation where families often feel powerless can have a big impact.

Please meet the crochet group crafting the blankets of goodbye.