Belfast Telegraph

Inspirational Nancy (93) brings winter comfort to kids in Africa with wonderful knitted blankets

Nancy Agnew (93) of Ratheane Nursing Home, Coleraine
Nancy Agnew (93) of Ratheane Nursing Home, Coleraine
Nancy Agnew with nursing staff Melissa McCorriston, Evelyn Joyce and Gavin Stevenson
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

An inspirational 93-year-old woman is bringing comfort to poverty-stricken children this winter.

Despite being confined to her bed in a nursing home for most of the day, Nancy Agnew has found a new lease of life by producing blankets.

A long-term resident at Ratheane Nursing Home in Coleraine, this month alone she has 42 new blankets to be sent to children in need in Africa and Romania.

She said there is nothing she loves more than getting out the needles and cracking on with her next creation.

From the comfort of her own bed, Nancy said she just wants to be able to think she is doing something to give children across the world the same cosy feeling.

"I just love doing it," she explained.

"I want to give vulnerable and abandoned children in Africa the gift of warmth. I hope the blankets help them to stay warm in their beds and as long as I'm still able to, I'll carry on knitting them from my own bed."

Nancy's husband died more than 10 years ago and the couple had no family, but that has not stopped the Coleraine woman trying to help children around the world.

She has now been responsible for sending hundreds of her blankets to Africa to children and babies who have been orphaned or abandoned.

The sole survivor of a knitting club she joined many years ago, Nancy now encourages anyone who visits her to get their needles out and join her in knitting the blankets.

Evelyn Joyce, the activities therapist at Ratheane Nursing Home, explained that Nancy's passion for patchwork has been infectious.

"Nancy joined the knitting club in Ratheane many years ago," she explained.

"It was a great social activity. It helped keep hands and minds agile.

"Sadly Nancy is the only one left from that original group.

"A resident called Annie Lake was always the top knitter until she died a year ago. She would have made four blankets in the time it took everyone else to produce one.

"Since then Nancy has taken over the reins and she's really taken to it. She knew there were not many residents left able to knit the squares so she has taken to recruiting every visitor to help with her cause. She's very persuasive.

"There's hardly anyone comes through the door she hasn't tried to enlist.

"She's never really had an interest in television. It's on in the room, but she's just too busy with the knitting to notice.

"But this has been so good for her. It keeps her active and she gets so much joy from it."

Evelyn said that Nancy's obsession only breaks for lunch and dinner.

"When she's awake, she's knitting!" she added.

"At least she's easy to buy Christmas presents for. All she wants is more wool!"

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