Helensburgh grandmother knits 500 jumpers for Oxfam

A grandmother from Helensburgh has knitted an incredible 500 jumpers which she has donated to Oxfam. Valerie Ashworth, 78, completed the remarkable feat over a period of six years.

A lifelong knitter, Mrs Ashworth was moved to begin supporting Oxfam after seeing a programme on television which featured children living in poverty overseas.

Mrs Ashworth drops off the jumpers in batches of 10 at Oxfam’s Helensburgh shop where staff ensure they are used to raise funds for the organisation’s lifesaving work around the world.

Staff at the shop recently presented Mrs Ashworth with a certificate for her efforts. She explained that she’d originally learned to knit at school when she was just eight years old.

Mrs Ashworth said: “At school we were making things for people who’d been affected by the war. I know Oxfam was founded around the same time as I started knitting and was helping people after the war; maybe that’s where some of our knitting went.

“I never stopped knitting after that. I used to knit for my three children, and for their children, but when they were teenagers they didn’t want to wear stuff that I’d made anymore.

“I’d known about the Oxfam shop in Helensburgh for a long time. I used to be a shop owner myself, and I’d give the things we didn’t sell to Oxfam as well as some of my own clothes. I remember giving away my high heels and handbags – some of them I’d hardly worn. I’d always thought that if I didn’t want them, someone else might.

“I’ve always been active, I always want to be doing something, so I knit while I’m watching the television.”

Graham Newport, Manager of Oxfam’s Helensburgh shop, praised Mrs Ashworth’s efforts. He said: “We’re incredibly grateful for Mrs Ashworth’s longstanding support. Her generosity has helped raise vital funds to help Oxfam save and transform the lives of some of the world’s poorest people. It just goes to show you that whatever your skills or talents, everyone has a role to play in the fight against poverty.”

Despite passing the extraordinary milestone, Mrs Ashworth says she has no plans to stop anytime soon. She said: “When I got to 500 I thought I would stop, but it felt odd to not be doing anything while I’m watching television. I’m already on to number 502.

“I don’t know whether or not I’ll get to 1,000 – my eyesight might have gone by then!”

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For more information please contact: Rebecca Lozza, Media and Communications Officer, Oxfam Scotland, on 0141 285 8875 / 07880785159 or RLozza1@Oxfam.org.uk