Members of the Sunderland community have been inspired to knit and crochet, donating dozens of tiny clothes to a local funeral director after she started making blankets, hats and mittens for stillborn babies.
Aimee Hughes, Funeral Director at Walker & Morrell Funeral Directors in Washington, Sunderland, taught herself to crochet after being moved by arranging funerals for babies who were too fragile to wear traditional baby clothing.
She said: “Many stillborn babies sadly come to us without being fully clothed because they’re so small. I started crocheting small woollen hats, socks and blankets for them to wear and have been inundated with donations from the local community, including materials and other woollen items.”
The funeral director learned how to crochet through video tutorials on YouTube during lockdown restrictions after a suggestion from her auntie.
She said: “I’m quite crafty and do lots of cross-stitching, but I’ve never got the hang of knitting. When my auntie suggested crochet, I could finally make my idea a reality.”
Aimee posted a picture of her woollen cardigans, blankets and mittens on Facebook and immediately received messages from people wanting to help.
She continued: “Thanks to the generosity of people across Washington and Sunderland, we now have plenty of clothing to give babies at Walker & Morrell.”
Aimee donates excess clothes to the mortuary staff of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead, who share them with the rest of the Hospital Foundation Trust. This includes Sunderland Royal Hospital, as well as colleagues working on maternity wards as the clothes are ideal for premature babies too.
Clare King, Charitable Funds Officer at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, said: “We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Aimee for taking the time to hand-craft these items of baby clothing and for choosing to donate them to us. Her efforts will make a huge difference to the lives of parents and families at the Queen Elizabeth. We’re very grateful for her support.”
Aimee now aims to supply Queen Elizabeth Hospital with a blanket and hat for every stillborn and premature baby under their care.
She also recently donated her 21st pint of blood for neonatal babies, with her blood carrying a special antibody that aids their development.
She concluded: “I am absolutely amazed by the kindness and support of our local community. It has been heart-warming to hear stories from mums who have lost babies and wanted to help other women in their time of need.”
Donations can be made to Aimee’s initiative at Walker & Morrell Funeral Directors on 4 West View, Concord, Washington, NE37 2DT.