All’s wool that ends wool

The Easter Knitted Chick Appeal 2023 ends on a high!

Boxes filled with knitted chicks

More than 30,000 chicks and bunnies were sold in 2023!

More than 30,000 chicks have been sold with the appeal set to raise in excess of £40,000.

What started as a local fundraising initiative by a group of hospice volunteers and knitters has blossomed into one of the biggest income generating appeals for Manchester based Francis House Children’s Hospice.

The Francis House Easter Knitted Chick Appeal began more than 20 years ago. Today the appeal results in tens of thousands of hand knitted chicks – and bunnies – arriving at the hospice in Didsbury by the sack load. There they are unpacked, sorted, repaired and filled with thousands of Creme Eggs to be sold for £1 in schools, stores and businesses to raise funds for Francis House.

Francis House supports more than 550 families from across Greater Manchester. The hospice offers care for children and young adults who have a life-limiting or life-threatening condition and provides essential support for their families.

Two women and a man holding knitting needles in an office

News of the appeal even featured on BBC North West Tonight

Clever crafters

Chicks arrived from such far-flung places as France, Spain, Uganda and Canada. Some knitters were especially creative this year, sending chicks sporting wild and wonderful hairstyles or accessories. One very impressive brood, knitted by Mary Tittensor from Crewe, contained twelve Disney Princess themed chicks in full costume!

Parcels arrived so thick and fast in the weeks up to Easter that the fundraising team simply could not keep up with the volume. Volunteers Barbara Allwood from Sale and her friend Joan Thrussell from Bedfordshire stepped in to help, spending two days at the hospice tirelessly opening parcels and quality controlling the contents. Together the ladies also lovingly repaired over 500 chicks that needed a little extra TLC.

Staff at Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers in Oldham hopped to it producing more than 50 chicks and bunnies after the law firm held ‘learn to knit’ sessions under the watchful eye of champion knitter Denise Curzon.  Over at Wrigley Claydon Solicitors, Louise Davies, office administrator, once again used her spare time to knit and sell chicks. Senior partner Vijay Srivastava is a trustee at Francis House.

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Egg Collectors and Chick Stuffers

Pupils from St Richard’s Primary School in Longsight, who have been eggcellent supporters of the appeal for several years, once again came up trumps with an unbeatable donation of 3,254 Creme Eggs.

Staff from Trafford Park based CHEP UKI spent a day stuffing crate loads of chicks with the eggs as part of the firm’s paid for volunteering hours.

Janet Hart, European Fleet Controller and UKI CSR Champion said: “We have known Francis House for years and sold chicks in our offices before COVID. Everyone at CHEP loves food, and we couldn’t wait to help out in such a fun way. We loved doing it and because of hybrid working it has been an opportunity to meet with colleagues we’ve not seen in years.”

Chick Taxis and Brood Sellers

Once chicks were stuffed and ready to fly the nest, dozens of volunteer drivers generously gave up their time to deliver the broods to participating schools and shops to go on sale. Special mention goes to members of the Rotary Club of Manchester – Peter, Julie, Roy, Barbara and Susan – who drove many many miles on their various chick missions.

More than 60 schools participated in selling chicks, from Holmes Chapel Comprehensive up to Huddersfield Grammar. In addition to schools, a whole host of shops, offices and cafes joined in. Maureen Douglass from Marple also took responsibility for 1,600 chicks, placing them in businesses all over Marple and keeping on top of relentless demands for more!

Francis House Fundraising Officer Rachel Nasiri co-ordinated dozens of creme egg collectors, delivery drivers, school sellers and volunteers known as ‘stuffers’ to help fill every single chick.

“From its beginnings as a chick knit by our hospice volunteers, and through the hard work of our supporters and the wider knitting community, the Francis House Easter Chick Knit has become a much-loved annual appeal with a fantastic feel-good factor. Every single chick knitted and every egg donated really makes a big difference to us.”

Rachel Nasiri

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