Many of us have a hobby to help us relax, unwind and generally provoke happy thoughts – be it yoga, reading or gardening.
But for Peterborough solicitor Alison Banerjee, it’s quilting – a pastime turned hobby she first started 20 years ago.
Alison, who works for Buckles Solicitors LLP, began making quilts for her own children, family and friends and after getting well and truly smitten with sewing. She has since become involved with Project Linus UK.
Project Linus is a volunteer organisation which aims to provide a sense of security and comfort to sick and traumatised babies, children and teenagers through the provision of new home made patchwork quilts and knitted or crocheted blankets, and give volunteers across the UK the opportunity to contribute to their local community.
Alison, who is the Project Linus UK coordinator for this area, said: “This is something I am very passionate about, and have managed to involve friends and family in my love of quilting.
“About a year ago, I approached Project Linus to find out how I could donate quilts to my local hospital but as there was no local coordinator I found that it wasn't going to be easy. I thought that if I wanted to make and donate quilts and was finding it difficult to get them to the right people then others may find it difficult as well, so why not be the coordinator? In February, we donated 31 hand made quilts to Peterborough City Hospital – including to babies in the neonatal ward and children on Amazon ward.
“The lovely thing about Project Linus is that each quilt is given to a particular child to keep – something of their own, a kind of permanent hug.”
As a progression of making quilts for youngsters in hospital, Alison has now embarked on a project to ensure every child attending the Willoughby School in Bourne, whose youngsters have additional learning needs, receives their own quilt.
So far, over 40 have been donated to the children of the school, and more colourful hand made quilts are to find a home with the youngsters shortly.
Alison, who estimates she has made 20 quilts a year over the past two decades, explains her passion.
“Quilting is my time to daydream and think and just be. I need to create something with my own hands. I need to leave something material in this world. I need to give some love to the people who receive my quilts (even when I don’t know them). I need to touch, feel and smell fabric and I love to think about the many different combinations of colour and pattern I can make with it and even audition fabrics to see how they work together, and frequently surprise myself as to what unexpectedly work together.
“It nourishes me, and I need to quilt. Quite simply, quilting is my thing.”
Anyone wishing to find out more about Project Linus UK or would like to get involved locally can visit http://projectlinusuk.org.uk/
Project Linus local coordinator, Alison Banerjee