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Published on 30 September 2010 08:00 AM

Thanks to the determination of one colleague from the Radisson Blu Hotel in Belfast, staff are enjoying a shared interest in knitting to support the Age NI Big Knit campaign, in association with innocent smoothies and Sainbury’s.

Ann Gray and her team of knitters are among hundreds of people of all ages throughout Northern Ireland busy knitting 50,000 miniature woolly hats to sit on innocent smoothie bottles in Sainsbury’s stores. For each hat-wearing bottle sold, 25p will be donated to Age NI. The aim is to raise an incredible £12,500 to help raise vital funds to support older people.

Ann, who works in the hotel’s accounts department, said, ‘Since 2006, I have sent an email inviting staff to take part in the Age NI Big Knit, offering knitting lessons, patterns and the option to borrow my own needles and wool. Last year, I managed to recruit a couple of people who had never knitted before and one girl turned out to be a naturally talented knitter. This year, my persistence paid off and five staff members took up my offer to learn to knit.’

She continued, ‘The misconception is that knitting is difficult and its not. People of all ages and all skill levels can join in with the beginner, intermediate and advanced knitting patterns. One tactic I use is to tell the ladies “if you’re knitting, you aren’t snacking!” which seems to keep them motivated! One staff member even told me that knitting little hats for the charity keeps her away from internet shopping!  Though, I’m still waiting to find Radisson’s Kaffe Fassett - one of the world’s best male knitters!  September is also ‘Responsible Business Month’ for Radisson Blu Hotels so it is fitting that more staff are involved and doing their bit to help Age NI improve the lives of older people.’

The final date to submit the tiny knitted hats is Tuesday 12 October. To register for the Big Knit and receive knitting patterns, contact Dorothy McConkey on 028 9024 5729 or email

Find out more about the campaign including photos and downloadable patterns on our Big Knit page or follow Age NI on opens link in new window for regular updates.

For more information: Call Age NI Advice: 0808 808 7575