Woollyhugs > Latest.. > Past Projects > Our Review of 2019. The Year of the Tortie?!

Our Review of 2019. The Year of the Tortie?!

As the  old year draws to an end, we love to pause and to reflect upon the Woolly year just gone and although we say this every time, it really has been an extraordinary year, full of extraordinary days! What a woolly journey we are all on together.


The Woolly Hug crew seem unstoppable, a true force of good, and we never take any of this for granted. We are filled with awe at the response and enthusiasm to all our projects, the spirit, compassion, generosity, love and care, truly it feels boundless. Crafters and donors what you do is incredibly special and precious, giving woolly warmth comfort to others. Incredible. Saying thank you just doesn’t seem enough, but the most enormous thanks to everyone.


2019 saw the continuation of our Ongoing projects with new ones added in. From here in the UK to as far away as Syria, Kurdistan, Belarus and Vietnam children and families feeling love, warmth, support and comfort through our Refugee Project, Billie’s Blankets, Little Hugs inc Hugs for Manchester, Kinship Hugs and Candy’s Hugs. Thinking too of all the families in Glasgow and the surrounds who have received our Angel Hugs and Teds incredibly bleak and devastating times. Love in every stitch we say and it really is true.


Again all hail the incredible Construction Crew who have really exceeded themselves in 2019, at times our requests (Chernobs, Snugs, Refugee blankets) are relentless and they never fail to support even when they must be on their knees! For this and several other projects, we could not function without you, the sheer joyful enthusiasm our calls for help is met with makes us so teary and thankful, what wonders you are. Thank you! Thanks too to the wonderful Square Squad who are utterly fabulous at quickly and beautifully making squares for special Little Hugs/Kinships etc. We put up our request and we are never surprised at the SPEED of the replies! Thank you everyone. If anyone would like more info about either group, just shout, we have separate Facebook groups so not to get lost on the main Page!







2019 will never be forgotten as the year we made it to Osipovichi , Belarus in April to meet our ‘Chernob’ children and families at home and school. This was a life changing trip for us, heartbreaking in many parts, uplifting and inspiring in others. Such a joy to meet again some of the children who had come to the UK (Bristol) in 2018 and see our Chernobyl blankets in their homes.We could see how treasured and loved they were and it renewed our energy and passion for this project. 

















Thanks to you all, we were able to take over so many beautiful Billie’s Blankets and Little Hugs for the Baby Home 1 in Minsk, these often forming part of palliative care, some for respite care and others for children for whom due to circumstances this is their home now. This was a truly wonderful thing to do for not only the children, but the wonderful staff team there. Folk had made wonderful Hearty Hearts which were loved by all we could give them to. Fantastic.


We blogged during the whole trip, although at times just couldn’t find the words, our Belarus Blog can be found here.. https://www.woollyhugs.org/category/blog/belarus-blog/page/3/  Then one afternoon we had a really joyous moment, we got to meet Alexey. 

Alexey is a very special person as he was the first ever ’Chernob child’ and he visited Surrey. He’s now 33, has his own family and works for the Chernobyl Children’s lifeline based in Minsk. Amazing. He had his own blanket from us on this day. It seemed the right thing and we were delighted we could. It was a special day to meet Alexey as that day was the 33rd anniversary of the devastating Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

We know we want to go back, there was never any doubt that we wanted to do more and reach more children and their families. Sadly 2020 is out because of family commitments, but 2021 could be something for us to work towards! Thank you to Andy at the Bristol link for letting us tag onto his trip, as we’ve already said, it was life changing.




Our Chernobyl project 2019 was wonderfully well supported, not all groups host every year but in 2019 but because of your generosity and love, we were delighted to send beautiful blankets, extras and ice cream funds to..

  • Aberdeen
  • Ayrshire
  • Bristol
  • Chet and Waveney (Norfolk)
  • Dublin
  • Fife
  • Gloucester/Glossop (children split their trip between these two)
  • Isle of Wight
  • Mid Glamorgan
  • Mid Suffolk
  • Northamptonshire (Helpston)
  • Shropshire
  • St Ives
  • Swindon
  • Yeovil and Sherborne

It was great to meet the Bristol children again and deliver their blankets in person, many of whom we had met in Belarus back in April. Thanks to everyone for their enthusiasm and wonderful support, this project really does draw upon the strength of everyone, and we know for sure it is so worthwhile, so a huge thank you again xxx

















Ooooo, and there was another film!! Guess who is happily using a DRONE??!! This of the blankets heading to our wonderful Helpston group.

Our Chernobyl project 2020 will be bigger than ever!  We REALLY need your help, do check it out here… Thank you so so much! Think we are initially aiming for 175 blankets. Say it quickly, it makes it EASIER!


So what about the Torties!

It  all started with a request from the amazing folk at the Children’s Family Trust (who receive our Snugs for looked after children) They were after a mascot, and had come up with the idea of a tortoise. 

Because of confidentiality and privacy the wonderful CFT can’t put pictures of the children and their activities on any social media platform, the idea was to have something the children could take with them to all their school trips, events etc and take pictures of them so they can them celebrate their achievements!! They even drew their ideas and the staff searched around and found Theresa’s pattern to match their work!

We are eternally grateful to the very lovely Theresa (from TheresasCrochetShop) because she has very kindly donated her pattern for our use to help these children, so altruistic, super kind and generous of her, and even more wonderful of her – she’s not from the UK, she’s from the USA! Her patterns are absolutely fabulous, totally gorgeous, very straightforward and can all be found over here…. on Etsy, please do check her out!

So our Tortie Sortie began, thank you to so many crafters for taking on the challenge, we had a lot of fun and games with the Torties, one even made it to New York, before  delivering a little Tortie army to the Children’s Family Trust in the summer, this was an emotional day, but they needed to go and work hard! Thanks to lovely Ali though we were not Tortie-less for long, so Tortie is now our mascot too, long may the adventures continue!



























Our Bee’s Blanket project is now just one year old and we love seeing our crafters creativity! This project has been inspired by not only Bee but by others who have children with autism and also by wonderful people who have either been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s or have had to support loved ones whilst often feeling helpless to know how to support them. These are sensory, tactile blankets which can be a soothing, stimulating  and comforting resource and the feedback we have had from those we have made has been very positive. Taking this forward we hope to help many more wonderful individuals. 


Making Christmas Cwtches was a new project for us in 2019, we even celebrated with a film!  We were asked to make special festive Little Hugs for very sick children stuck on ward 2 at the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle over Christmas. We leapt to the challenge. All absolutely stunning, thank you so much everyone, we know these have been loved by families going through incredibly difficult times.. xx





























2019 saw our first Woolly Festival, and what an introduction! Victorious festival on the August Bank Holiuday. Glorious weather, fabulous people and the Torties acted like celebrities and got stuck into the glitter! Thanks to everyone we had an enormous number of Woolly Huggers to promote our work. And then we got to see Lewis Capaldi!


Thank you so much to the wonderful Rebel Yarnstormers and Seeded for all their love and hard work!










Our Ongoing projects continue and grow, our Little Hug project (blankets for very sick children at The Royal Hospital for Children,  Glasgow, the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle and Royal Manchester Hospital for Children) enters its eighth year, bigger than ever and we were truly delighted to be contacted by Great Ormond Street asking for blankets for some of their desperately ill teens and we were truly delighted to help and will continue to do so. Thank you so much to Catherine at GOSH. Love to all the families and children who have received this year. Our Angel Hug project continues too, helping support bereaved families in Glasgow maternity wards. Loved and looked after.






A Snug for Christmas 2019 was supporting children in the NE region of England. So many beautiful blankets, we hit our target of 54, thank you so so much. All going to wonderful looked after children – our aim is to give them something unique and permanent which they can take with them wherever they are. A Snug for Christmas 2020 will go ahead, region to be confirmed, thank you so much.

Our Candy’s Hugs are reaching out to even more wonderful women going through different stages of cancer treatment. Requests are coming in all the time and we need to work hard to ensure we can keep up with demand. The project started on Christmas Eve 2016 so we are entering our third year. We know Candy would have approved. We miss her. 





Our Refugee project is well supported and folk are adapting to our Posting window and requirements on sizing and colours. If in doubt, do have a read, we love our crafters who send such thoughtful beautiful items. Hundreds of items have already gone this year, truly love in every stitch for those who receive them. Thank you everyone, our posting window closes again on Easter Saturday 2020.







Christmas Hugs. Very recently we were able to send an enormous collection of cuddly toys off to Cecilia at the  Friends of Chernobyl Children who as well as bringing children over, work with families in remote areas in Belarus experiencing extreme poverty in very challenging conditions.They take them over as gifts for children who have next to nothing so you can imagine how much they are loved.





We mustn’t forget the Christmas Stocking project to help Father Frost! It feels AGES ago (last posting was May 31st!) as Elizabeth (Mid Suffolk Chernobyl Children’s Life line link) had to start transporting them over from the summer in readiness for the Orthodox Christmas in early January.


They personally take filled stockings to very sick children in hospitals and also to the homes of very disadvantaged children. No strings attached, just a gift for Christmas. 


It is clear that we all love doing this by the sheer numbers we send, folk are incredibly generous and fro experience it is great fun and a challenge to get the maximum in whilst keeping under the 650g weight restriction per stocking! Hopefully some photos to come in a few weeks, these from last Christmas. We won’t know if this project is running again until they return from their trip, so please do just wait before starting again. Thank you so much xx


We held two very successful craft sales this year, honestly folk are so generous, super talented and we are constantly amazed. We have enormous fun running them! It was an absolute pleasure to pay our donation of £1250 on behalf of us all to Shine Cancer charity in memory of and with love for the gorgeous Leslie a few weeks ago after the Christmas Sale. Sending so much love to her family. xx Our next Sale will be in the Spring, but we know folk like to get ahead, March 17th – 21st with a last posting of March 4th. Thank you! 












All of this and a Hugathon too! We revisited Portsmouth in September on possibly the wettest windiest Sunday of the year, but inside was merry and bright, lots of wonderful crafters chatting, making squares for our Snug project.




It is such a cheery occasion, very few know each other but we all have the common woolly core. Oh and there is a BAR! We love doing these, the Lucky Dip and Gin Raffle are now legendary!


We branch out in 2020! Leeds on February 29th ( yes it is a leap year!) and Gloucester in March. Tickets for Leeds are on sale, we’d love to see you there if poss. Gloucester tickets within a week or so.








All these beautiful MN Woolly Hug blankets have been made/delivered to families this year. All utterly stunning and so personal. We are so glad we can do this but how we wish there was ever any need. Several more are still in the construction phase. Thank you so much to the crew who work tirelessly and never seem to get fazed by requests <ahem> f – ing red trousers, Monty Python parrots, these folk can literally do anything!



















2019 proved to be yet another woolly whirlwind! Who knows where 2020 will take us!

Thank you again for every thought given to our projects, every piece of ours you have read, the likes, shares, every SINGLE stitch, ball of yarn, search for pattern or idea, every single penny spent, every choice from our Amazon wishlist, every penny donated or raised, every single moment, every BLOOMIN pesky end, every ounce of support, every resource, every Post office queue, everything!


We lost some of our wonderful crew this year, always loved, never forgotten, Ursula, Chrissie and TQ, we miss you so much, we were lucky to know each of you, sending love to their fabulous families xxx

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  2020, we are ready for you.