Elaine Atkinson of Mauriceville has been knitting woollen items for more than 60 years. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED
Acts of kindness go a long way
There have been a lot of things spreading across New Zealand of late.
The Delta variant of covid-19 has spread chaotically in Auckland. There have been more people – in the words of Chris Hipkins – “spreading their legs” with much needed exercise and fresh air since we dropped down to alert level 3.
But there has also been some amazing spreading of love, kindness and goodness during these difficult times.
And here in Wairarapa, some of that spreading of goodness was shown in two separate acts of kindness from people who wanted to give back to the community purely out of the goodness of their hearts.
If there was one thing Mauriceville’s Elaine Atkinson is known for, it is no doubt her love of knitting.
Elaine has been knitting woollen items for more than 60 years and has always used her craft to give back to the community whether it’s for someone in need, or just a ‘warm’ gift for a new born baby.
“Knitting’s my thing. I knit all the time starting at 6am in the morning,” she said.
“I’ve always knitted to help people as well as new babies. I make blankets and booties and things like that. I always have a bag of goodies ready for whoever needs them.”
Little did the 87-year-old know, her hand-knitted woollen blankets would go a long way in helping an elderly woman when she was stranded and locked out of her accommodation and was in need of warm bedding while she slept in her car overnight.
The woman normally lives in a self-contained truck at a storage facility but having lost her key, couldn’t access her bedding. She recently contacted the police comms centre in need of assistance to get through the cold nights.
Funnily enough, just a few weeks beforehand, Elaine turned up to the Masterton Police Station unexpectedly and handed over four of her newly made blankets to the police’s Family Safety Team, for someone who may be in need of one.
“I heard a while back that police were looking for blankets so I decided to make four single blankets and give them to police so they could use them to give to someone who needed them,” Elaine said.
The woman, who is now receiving help to provide her with more suitable accommodation, was given one of the blankets, along with some water and face masks, and was very grateful for the support provided.
“The blankets are beautifully knitted, heavy, and super warm,” Sergeant Gill Flower from the Family Safety Team said.
“The team decided we would choose our moment to give them out. And then this came along.”
Elaine was ecstatic to hear her blankets had been put to good use to help someone in need.
“I think it’s lovely,” she said.
“It really brings me a lot of joy to see people enjoying the things I knit. There’s always someone who needs something knitted for them, and I can’t sit and watch TV without knitting.
“There’s a lot of old houses in Masterton and a lot of cold people and old people, so I do it for them. And they love them; they think they’re really warm. The grandkids are really proud of what I donate.”
It’s not the first time Elaine has donated to a public organisation after she knitted 13 blankets for Wairarapa Hospital.
“I was at the rehab centre at the hospital once for an eye operation and it was cold. So I knitted 13 blankets for the 13 beds there and donated them as they were needed.”
All her items are made out of pure wool which is not the cheapest material around. However she said along with buying wool, she gets a lot donated to her, which she hopes will continue to happen so she can keep putting smiles on people’s faces with them.
“I always say to people if you’ve got some spare wool, doesn’t matter what ply it is I’ll still take it.”
Elaine wasn’t sure how much longer her hands had the strength to keep up with all the knitting she does, but vowed to continue for as long as she could.
“My fingers are getting a bit sore so I don’t know how much longer I can do it. But I should still be able to for a few more years. We’ll see,” she said.
“I won’t stop till I have too though.”That amazing spreading of kindness continued through the week with Masterton’s Johnny Burling [Burling Transport] and Mark Heginbotham [Newbolds Masterton] planning to donate much-needed televisions to Wairarapa Hospital.
The pair have teamed up to bring 12 televisions to rooms at the hospital for patient use.
The idea started when Burling wanted to give something back to the hospital for all the hard work and attention they had given his father during the many times he had been admitted there.
A nurse suggested a television because many weren’t working; however, one wasn’t going to be enough in Burling’s eyes.
“A nurse said to me one day we don’t have the funds for new televisions so I thought okay, but one TV wasn’t going to cut it. So I went to Newbolds and asked how much for 12 TV’s,” Burling said.
“Mark told me the price but then said, ‘we want to be part of this so how about we split in 50/50’.
“It was great. Newbolds has been amazing to do this and I think the nurses did an amazing job with my dad so this was part of my way of saying thank you.”
Heginbotham said of the donations, “If you can help, help. That is my motto with most things and I’m in a position where we can help a little bit so if we can, we do.”
The DHB said they are looking forward to making the TVs available for patient use as soon as possible.
However, to do so, each room will need to be vacant for the TVs to be installed and, with high patient volumes in the hospital at the moment, room demand is constant.