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Young initiative

06 February 2015

AGED ten, it was Francesca Towers who encouraged her family, friends, and the Canterbury Cathedral knitting circle to help her make more than 100 small woolly hats for Big Knit, a joint fund-raising campaign between Age UK and Innocent drinks.

The hats are fitted on top of Innocent drink bottles this month, and, for each bottle sold, the drinks firm will give 25p to Age UK towards its Spread the Warmth efforts to help older people during the cold winter months. That can include extra visits, extra blankets, hot-water bottles, warm meals, and social gatherings. So far, some million little hats have been knitted.

Francesca was inspired to take part in the Big Knit when she saw an advertisement in a local branch of Age UK, even though she had never so much as picked up a pair of knitting needles. She went for help to her grandmother, Ivy Calvino, who is the merchandise manager at the Canterbury Cathedral shop.

Mrs Calvino taught her to knit, and enlisted the aid of her colleagues in the cathedral's knitting circle, which meets once a week. "Knitting was more difficult than I thought," Francesca said. "I had never made anything like this before, but, with everyone's help, we managed to make and create some wonderful hats."

Within two months, more than 100 hats had been knitted. They were presented to the Chief Officer for Age UK in Canterbury, Dr Neil Brown, who said that the dedication shown by Francesca "was truly inspirational".

In December, Francesca was presented with a Good Citizen Award by Boughton Parish Council for her charity work during 2014. Among her other charitable efforts, she has cut off her own hair to raise money for the Little Princess Trust, which makes wigs from real hair for children who have lost their hair through cancer treatment.

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