Sidmouth friends use crafting talents to help ‘brilliant’ specialist unit


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A rugby-loving teenager with a life-changing illness inspired a group of old Sidmouth friends to put their creative talents to a good cause.

Lewis Franklin, 15, was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of nine and the ‘brilliant’ care he receives from the team at the Royal Devon and Exeter (RD&E) Hospital prompted his family to give something back.

His grandmother Gill Crick and aunt Steph Preston regularly hold ‘stitch and bitch’ gatherings along with two other women to reminisce on decades of friendship and create items to sell for local charities.

Lewis – who plays for Sidmouth Rugby Club – provided inspiration for their latest fundraising efforts over the last year, which totalled £1,155 and has been donated to the youth diabetes unit in the RD&E.

Steph, of Primley Mead, explained the ladies – who are all in their 60s – went to Woolbrook Secondary School together and meet up to craft items ‘just for the love of it’.

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She said: “People in the unit have been absolutely brilliant with Lewis and so we wanted to raise some money to help.

“We just get together at my house and do a lot of crafting and then find events where we can sell it. During FolkWeek, we did really well. Most of the fundraising is done from my garden.

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“We do it for fun, as a hobby. The other girls and I went to school together and we are all in our 60s now and it’s a really nice opportunity to get together and have a chat and stitch.

“We do bunting and aprons, wheat bags, knitting - my sister-in-law, Gill, used to be a seamstress so she helps us.”

Steph added a huge thank-you to everyone who supported them and fellow crafters Mary Court and Sami Stephenson.

The group has previously raised money for Children’s Hospice South West and supported a colleague of Steph’s from Gliddons toy shop, in Church Street, who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for charity.

Lewis’s mum, Trudi, said: “Lewis has had diabetes since he was nine and the unit was saying ‘do not lose this bit of equipment because it costs £1,000’. I know they are short of funding and so when mum was wondering who to raise funds for, I said the unit really needs it and they do so much.

“They have been brilliant with Lewis. It’s a life-changing illness. He has to do injections eight times a day so all the support we can get in terms of equipment at home is just brilliant. They have been brilliant for us as a family.”

Lewis handed the cheque to diabetes nurse Ruth Dalton at the specialist unit.

Trudi said the team there was ‘over the moon’ to receive the generous contribution.

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