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VIDEO: Warm-hearted Arbroath knitter Anne keeps hundreds of premature Tayside babies cosy

An Angus gran’s lockdown labour of love has delivered a mountain of knitted clothes for Tayside’s premature babies.

Anne Reith has created tiny hats and cardigans for the special care baby unit at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee for many years.

And she kept going with her lifelong hobby when the pandemic struck.

Anne Reith
Anne with one of her hand-knitted cardigans. Pic: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.

But the Arbroath 77-year-old had to hold onto the dainty woollen garments because of coronavirus restrictions.

They were carefully tucked away in her daughter Noela’s Carnoustie home, but are now Ninewells bound.

And a tally up of the carefully packaged gifts revealed an amazing total of more than 500 items.

Started knitting at the age of six

Anne says she’s determined to keep the one-woman production line going.

“I’ve knitted since I was six,” she said.

“I knit for everybody and just love it.

“I have a drawer upstairs and if someone comes in and tells me someone’s had a baby then I’ll go up and pick something out of it.”

But alongside the beautiful handmade clothes for family and friends, Anne creates the delicate hats, cardigans and mitts for newborns sometimes weighing less than a bag of sugar.

Anne is rarely without a pair of knitting needles in her hand. Pic: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.

“During lockdown I kept going and gave the clothes to my daughter until they could be delivered to Ninewells,” she said.

“I didn’t realise there was so much,” said Anne, of Arbroath’s Drostan Terrace.

“I don’t think about it when I’m knitting, I just finish one thing and start another.

“But it was a bit of a surprise to see how much there was.”

Popular hairdresser

Anne is well-known in the town having been a hairdresser until she retired after she reached her 70s.

And she can also lay proud claim to being a champion marmalade maker.

In 2016, Anne was a winner in the World Marmalade Awards.

But knitting is both her passion and relaxation.

“To begin with I was knitting items and passing them into the Arbroath lifeboat who then passed them on to Ninewells,” she said.

“My daughter’s friend then started as a midwife in Ninewells and we started to give them through her.

Anne has also knitted for children in Malawi through a project run by St Andrews Church in Arbroath which she is a member of.

She is kept supplied with wool by her daughters, Noela and Mairi.

Noela said: “If it’s a birthday, Mother’s Day or something like that she get wee present and a few balls of wool.

“My mum and dad didn’t enjoy being stuck in during lockdown but at least mum had her knitting.

Arbrath knitter
The collection of knitted clothes grew during lockdown. Pic: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.

“Boxes of 18 balls of wool at a time were being delivered to keep her going.

“We hadn’t realised how much there was, it just accumulated.

“It is quite emotional thinking of the babies that these clothes will go to.

“But it is nice to know that something she loves doing is going to help families whose babies are being looked after there.”

NHS Tayside gratitude

And NHS Tayside are hugely appreciative of their Angus angel’s effort.

Neonatal services senior nurse Alison Wright said: “We are very grateful to Anne for all the knitting she has done for us.

“She is such an amazing lady and lots of our babies have benefitted from her efforts over the years.

“A big thank you to Anne from all the babies, parents and staff.”

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