Sheila, from Corstorphine, decided to make use of her spare time during lockdown by knitting dolls inspired by what was going on in the world around her.
Many were familiar with the symbols of hope including the rainbow, so in her free time she knitted smiling nurses with facemasks and big rainbows to keep spirits up and put on display, but also made an extra special doll of Captain Tom.
“I made the dolls in lockdown and sometime way before October last year I sent a knit of Sir Tom and a nurse to him. They would have just been sitting round my house so I just thought it would be something nice,” she said, “I didn’t think too much of it at the time but I got a lovely thank you card back from him which I’m sure many people received who had sent him gifts.”
During coverage of Sir Tom’s passing, STV News played a clip which featured some shots of his Bedfordshire hometown of Marston Moretaine where he lived with his family.
Messages of condolences and flowers were left at his home, but one particular shot of the house’s front window showed the two knitted dolls that Sheila had sent him.
She said, “I wasn’t watching the news at the time, but when it came on I started to receive phone calls from friends and my daughter to say my doll of Captain Tom was in his window! Well I thought, it must have been quite something that he would keep it there for everyone to see.”
Sheila then managed to see the clip and her knits in his window.
“I’ve been knitting for years, my mother used to, but I’ve put the kit away now and I’ve got an easel and some paints though I’m not sure how good I’ll be at it!” She added, “I was just trying a lot of different patterns to make the dolls, there’s obviously not a pattern to follow to make a Captain Tom but the policeman pattern was similar with the jacket so it was changing little bits of them and being able to make his walker and his nose right which were the biggest challenges.”
While her knitting kit might be put away for now, the thoughtfulness of Sheila’s gestures has clearly had an impact on Sir Tom’s family and those closer to home.
As well as Sir Tom, she knitted a nurse for her neighbour Jackie who works at the Sick Kids. The nurse doll is proudly displayed at the capital hospital as a mascot for all those working there and the children who are visiting.
The rest of her designs including other nurse dolls and the rainbow she created she donated to Castle Street’s Treasure Trove to be sold and the funds to be put towards their charity The Royal Edinburgh Repository and Self Aid Society.