A great-grandmother from Sabden could well be the Ribble Valley’s top needlewoman.
For Mrs Margaret Balmbra of Stubbins Lane spends hours every day at her knitting needles and over the past few years has raised thousands of pounds for charity.
The 88-year-old has just made 300 red and green poppies which she sold for £1 each for this year’s Poppy Appeal and raised £350 for Macmillan Nurses by running a coffee morning and selling her woolly creations.
So far this winter she has knit dozens of sets of caps, scarves and mittens for homeless teenagers at Nightsafe in Blackburn. And she is just knitting a Teddy bear to send out to a friend of a friend in France.
The mum of nine who has around 60 grandchildren and great-grandchildren used to be much in demand when friends and family need any home knitting.
But now she mainly concentrates on helping charities. She buys all the wool herself, but rarely knits for herself, although for several hours each day you can hear her knitting needles clacking.
She has already started knitting her poppies for next year’s Remembrance Services as they sold so well this year. They were on sale all around the village, plus at a Clitheroe nursery where her granddaughter Roxanne works, and at the Tesco store in Great Harwood where staff have offered their support to her fund-raising activities since she was seriously injured when she was hit by a car earlier this year.
She was taught to knit when she was eight by a teacher at St Mary’s RC School and has loved the craft ever since.
Born in Watt Street, she worked in the village cotton mills and also as a caretaker at St Mary’s School. She and her late husband Dennis moved to Pendle Street East when they were married and later ran a shop in Thorn Street. They moved to their bungalow in the Littlemoor sheltered housing complex 25 years ago.
Over in Clitheroe a mother and daughter team have also been busy knitting poppies. For the past three years Mary and Su Brass of Banana News, have been selling their handmade poppies around Remembrance Day, to raise money for the Royal British Legion. This year the ladies made a fantastic £800 taking the total to almost £2000 for the charity. If you missed out this year be sure to look out for them next year from Banana News or through facebook.