Winter projects 'leaf' a lasting impression on the Great Oaks

Michael Scott


Michael Scott


THE Great Oaks from Derrynoose were one of the few community groups that managed to keep active during what for everyone was a long winter due to COVID lockdown restrictions.

The group caters for older people who live in the Derrynoose area and have been active and innovative since it was set up five years ago.

The ladies in the group had planned and actually begun a busy winter crafts programme but they were not able to continue with their regular meetings in the Community Centre because of COVID restrictions, so they then arranged to have the tasks completed in their own homes.

This adjustment to the Crafty Crafts programme required a huge amount of preparation and planning. Individual kits for 12 separate projects were made up and distributed to all the 25 members of the group.

Many of the different craft items were linked to seasonal themes including decorative Christmas stockings and mittens, a primitive angel figure and a seasonal wreath. Other items included a felt cover for a diary or notebook, a door stop gnome, a hot water bottle cover and a practical tea cosy.

Each kit contained all materials required for the task with clear instructions and patterns enclosed. The members kept in touch with each other via WhatsApp and encouraged each other as they made progress through the tasks, with an opportunity to seek advice if needed. The industrious ladies then posted photographs of their finished item and a quick comment included. An unexpected bonus was the improvement of the ladies’ social media skills!

The Community Foundation supported the programme with a generous grant which the Great Oaks used to buy the materials and equipment required for each task.

A spokesperson for the group said they were delighted with The Community Foundation support.

They said, “The grant we received was a fantastic boost for our group.

“With the COVID restrictions we knew it would have impossible to continue meeting as usual so we came up with the idea of preparing kits to send to our members so they could work at home.”

Moving on from their craft work, The Great Oaks are already planning for their summer programme with the intention of focusing on projects that will also appeal to the men in the group. It is hoped to include some wood craft projects and aspects of growing and gardening.

In the meantime, the ladies got their knitting and crocheting needles out and are currently working on an impressive number of little hats for babies in neonatal units and specially-designed fidget muffs and blankets for residents in the local care homes. These will be distributed to the various homes and hospitals over the next few weeks.

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