A NIMBLE-fingered 91-year-old Tain woman who has produced thousands of knitted items for the needy over more than quarter of a century has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM).
Henrietta “Etta” Brown, of St Andrew’s Road, received her award in the New Year Honours for her work with one of the UK’s oldest charities, the Queen Mother’s Clothing Guild.
Since she joined the charity in 1990 she has produced many different kinds of knitted items – and shows no signs of slowing down with the needles.
These have gone off as welcome gifts to the homeless, women’s refuges and others in need.
But, as well as producing her own items, Etta, who was born and brought up in Culbokie on the Black Isle, is kept busy organising others to take up the knitting needles for the good cause.
She said: “I knitted by first sock when I was eight years old – and I won a first prize for it. I knitted the second one the following year – and I won a prize for that one too!
“That’s what started me off and I’ve been at it ever since. Socks are what I am best at and I must have knitted thousands to be sent off over the years through the guild.
“I’ve greatly enjoyed being with the guild, but it was a complete surprise to me when I had a letter telling me about the BEM.
“There are many people who do every bit as much as me and I was really delighted by this.”
She said: “I meet ladies who tell me that their fingers have become too stiff to knit but I tell them that if they don’t stop knitting their fingers will stay supple.
“I really enjoy organising other knitters for the guild and our contributors include some who were holidaying on the caravan site at Dornoch and happened to mention to one of our members they wished they had knitting to do as they sat in the sunshine.
“She immediately rushed off and came back with a supply of wool and needles and the holidaymakers have been knitting for us ever since.”
Etta is expected to receive her BEM from Ross and Cromarty Lord Lieutenant Janet Bowen in April.
The Queen Mother’s Clothing Guild, formerly Queen Mary’s Clothing Guild, was set up in 1882 by Lady Wolverton who was asked by the matron of an orphanage in Dorset to provide 24 pairs of hand-knitted socks and 12 jerseys for the children.
This gave Lady Wolverton the idea of starting a small guild among her friends to each knit not less than two garments a year to help the orphanage and other charities in need of clothing.
The Guild grew over the ensuing 125 years and now distributes yearly more than 25,000 items of new clothing for men, women and children, as well as household linen via relevant charities to the sick and needy in the UK.