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Knitting Banksy's crafty mystery message of thanks

The knitted display created by the Leckhampton Court Hospice yarn bombers

The yarn bomber's creation features some knitted members of hospice staff and volunteers.

Patients, families, volunteers and staff at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice received a wonderful surprise at the beginning of June when they arrived at the hospice one morning to find a tree in the centre of the grounds mysteriously yarn bombed with knitted creations and messages of thanks.

Complete with knitted leaves, birds, bees, rabbits, sheep, and a miniature garden with fairy door and vegetable patch, it even has knitted creations of some members of hospice staff. It has stopped many people in their tracks to admire the intricate work and take photos.

A plea put out via our Leckhampton Court Hospice Facebook page asking the mystery knitters behind the beautiful creation to come forward reached 42,000 people, was liked almost 700 times and was shared almost 200 times. The story also appeared in the Gloucestershire Echo and on BBC Radio Gloucestershire, and was shared nationally by Hospice UK too.

The yarn bomber revealed

Following this plea, a few days later a very special letter from the mystery yarn bomber was received.

Clare the yarn bomber's letter to Leckhampton Court Hospice 

Clare Young got in touch to reveal herself as the person responsible for setting up the whole thing with the help of a dedicated team of knitters. Together, they had been busily knitting away since the beginning of April to bring the incredible creation together.

Here are some words from Clare’s letter:

"My husband Ken died at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court in August 2015 at the age of 47. Before he was admitted to the inpatient unit for the last three weeks of his life, he attended the day unit and discovered he had a real talent for art. He was inspired to try to paint by Brigid, one of the art therapy volunteers."

Like many people visiting the hospice for the first time, Clare shares that she and Ken felt frightened at first:

"But very quickly we realised that, thanks to all your staff and volunteers, Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court is truly a special place.

"After Ken died, I found life very difficult, and was helped by the way I was always welcomed by staff and volunteers alike whenever I visited Leckhampton Court."

Knitting her way through grief

"In the months following Ken’s death, I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety."

Clare said that her clinical psychologist suggested knitting as a way to help her symptoms and this is where Clare’s knitting journey began.

A knitted door in the trunk of the tree 

"I’ve always tried to turn all negatives into positives since Ken died, so thought that I could knit Christmas decorations and sell them at reception at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court. I then decided to try and raise £500 for the hospice by 'knitting through 2017' as I am 50 this year. I am delighted to say that I’ve already raised £800 and it’s only June!"

Knitted bees hanging from a tree branch 

Clare attended Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court’s Lights of Love remembrance and carol service in December and someone suggested she should yarn bomb somewhere.

"And that was it: two chance comments by two people set me thinking. I researched yarn bombing, looked in the hospice grounds and chose this tree because it was between both hospices, so would be seen by everyone. I decided to install our knitting for National Volunteers' Week as a way of saying thank you to them all."

A real team effort

It took a big team of knitters coming together to create the amazing masterpiece.

"Through the power of Facebook and some of the hospice’s amazing volunteers, I gathered together more than 20 friends and family (all of whom were sworn to secrecy). We have been knitting away since the beginning of April, having decided on the theme of 'seasons and inspiration from nature'."

A tree branch dripping with knitted bunting 

The group really enjoyed getting together and working as part of one team, and it even helped Clare to reconnect with a friend from school.

"The project has got me back in touch with a friend I haven’t seen since I left school in 1985, who brings one of the amazing parts of this story. Her grandmother died at the hospice in 2010. When her possessions were cleared from her house, they found some knitted squares, which we have incorporated as a special part of this project. 

"I even have a patient from the Day Hospice knitting squares together for me, which I find amazing as it was there that my whole Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court journey began. We also have a friend of my Mum’s who is a hospice nurse in Bury St Edmunds knitting for us! We have been using the hashtag #greaterforces as we truly believe we were all meant to come together for this project."

Raising awareness and making Ken proud

In her letter, Clare shares that she hopes the creation will inspire others to spread positivity to help make the world a better place. "My hope for this yarn bombing journey is that – apart from it being a way to thank everyone – it raises awareness (and hopefully some money!) for what is a magical place.

"My real wish is that, even if only one person comes up to see the tree and realises there is nothing to fear at the hospice, I will be a very happy knitter who misses her husband every single day, but has hopefully made him proud."

The boughs of the tree festooned with knitted characters

People connected with our Leckhampton Court Hospice have been blown away by the beautifully decorated tree and the thoughtfulness, love, care and huge attention to detail that has gone into its creation.

The tree trunk decorated with knitted squares 

We would like to use this article as an opportunity to share our thanks and appreciation with Clare and all her #greaterforces knitters once again.

Watch the yarn bombers in action

We have received this amazing time-lapse video of the yarn bombers creating their masterpiece:

Thank the yarn bombers by supporting Leckhampton Court

Many people have asked whether they can donate towards the creation as a way to thank Clare and her team for their creation. A JustGiving page is available should you wish to contribute:

Make a donation


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