Havant knitters help to keep our troops warm this winter

COSY Muriel Barrett from Emsworth with Bombardier Pete Newman
COSY Muriel Barrett from Emsworth with Bombardier Pete Newman

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SOLDIERS in Afghanistan are being kept warm this winter thanks to the incredible knitting efforts of 16 pensioners at Havant Library.

The women of the Havant’s Knitter Knatter club have made 130 colourful beanie hats for members of 10 (Assaye) Battery of 47 Regiment Royal Artillery, who are based at Thorney Island and have recently deployed to Afghanistan.

The war-torn country may be renowned for its immense heat, but its mountainous climate means temperatures can plunge to -20C.

Maureen Barrett, 76, of Oakmeadow Close, Emsworth, who attends the club every Thursday, said: ‘We realised we have lots of hats and wondered what we were going to do with them.

‘We are not far from the Baker Barracks and we asked if we could knit hats for the soldiers.

‘They said okay. They are all colours, navy blues, dark greens.

‘Then we have some more girly ones as there are women out there too.’

She said it only took a few hours to knit each hat.

‘You can do one in a night,’ said Maureen.

‘When you are a knitter you get addicted to it.

‘You can’t sit watching telly without a pair of needles!’

It’s not the first time the knitting group has helped a good cause.

Their creations have been sent across the globe to places such as Sierra Leone, Tibet and Kenya where there are high rates of infant death through illnesses such as hypothermia and pneumonia.

Entertainer Paul O’Grady even featured their hats on his Channel 4 show.

Mrs Barrett said it felt great knowing that the soldiers were being kept warm by the hats.

‘It something useful for them,’ she said.

‘We feel we can’t do much for them out there, but this is something we can do and they seem really pleased with them.’

Staff Sergeant Michael McLaughlin said: ‘It means such a lot to us to know we have the support of the local community and these hats will come in extremely handy over the coming winter tour, the troops love them.’

The knitting club is now full but a second Knitter Knatter group has started on a Tuesday from 10am to midday.

Call (023) 9248 4945 for more information.