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‘Quilted hugs’ celebrated in exhibition in Norfolk church

24 May 2024

St Andrew’s, Little Massingham

Parishioners at St Andrew’s, Little Massingham, surround the church with quilts

Parishioners at St Andrew’s, Little Massingham, surround the church with quilts

YOUNG care-leavers moving out into the world with limited support and few possessions will be able to choose a patchwork quilt to brighten up their new home: a “quilted hug” made by 75 quilters from all over the country, and represented in an event last week by the Friends of St Andrew’s, Little Massingham, in Norfolk.

The quilts were on exhibition at the church from 10 to 12 May, attracting many visitors and raising funds towards the estimated £122,000 now needed to re-roof the Grade I listed building after lead was stolen in 2017. The church is on the Historic England “At Risk” register.

On 13 May, nationally designated “Let’s Give a Hug Day”, the church and village community and quilters encircled the church with 50 of the quilts in a colourful embrace of the building. “The quilters loved the idea that the quilts — known as ‘hugs’ — could help this ancient building, by drawing attention to its plight,” said Rosemary Jewers, the organiser of the event, a patron of the church and one of the founding Friends.

“But they were equally delighted to know that, afterwards, the finished quilts would be given to many of the young people who leave the care system every year, providing comfort and warmth.” The quilts have now temporarily gone back to their makers to have the wadding, backing, and topstitching completed. They will return to St Andrew’s for a final exhibition, from 19 to 20 July, and then be distributed to recipients.

It was Mrs Jewers, who was born and brought up in the village, and christened and married at the church, who discovered the charity Quilts for Carers, inspired by the poet and recent Chancellor of the University of Manchester, Lemn Sissay. At the age of 12, he returned to local-authority care from the long-term foster placement that he had been in since he was a baby, and what he had really wanted in that situation, he has told audiences in the past, was a hug.

She has already done an eight-day, 90-mile sponsored walk on the Roman Road from Colchester to the North Norfolk coast to raise funds. The Friends, set up during lockdown, have raised about £21,000, but they say that it will take much more than fund-raising events to achieve the amount needed for the new roof.

“It’s going be a big job, and we’re going to have to go for grants,” Mrs Jewers said. “But we’ve been overwhelmed by all the interest shown, and the number of people who have been to see the quilts. It’s been wonderful: we’ve involved the whole community, and so many people have come out to help us. I love that.”

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