Grieving widower finds comfort in knitting hats for premature babies

PUBLISHED: 12:00 19 May 2018

John Williams, knitting hats in Exmouth for premature babies at the RD&E. Picture by Chris Surman

John Williams, knitting hats in Exmouth for premature babies at the RD&E. Picture by Chris Surman

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Hats knitted in Exmouth are helping premature babies at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (RD&E).

Some of the hats knitted in Exmouth, by John Williams, for premature babies at the RD&E Hospital. Picture by Chris Surman.Some of the hats knitted in Exmouth, by John Williams, for premature babies at the RD&E Hospital. Picture by Chris Surman.

John Williams, 88, started creating little woolen items while grieving the loss of his wife, Florence, who died just a week before Christmas, aged 95.

On a recent visit to see his daughter Chris Surman and her husband Robert in Exmouth, John knitted 14 of the hats for the premature babies unit at the RD&E.

Chris said: “He was at a loss of what to do with his time, after spending four years daily visiting mum in a nursing home while she was suffering from dementia.

“He has found doing these little baby hats has taken his mind off things. It gives him great pleasure to know what he is doing goes to help the babies.”

John Williams, knitting hats in Exmouth, for premature babies at the RD&E Hospital. Picture by Chris Surman.John Williams, knitting hats in Exmouth, for premature babies at the RD&E Hospital. Picture by Chris Surman.

John, who lives alone in Bournville, Birmingham, bought himself a small loom, upon which he has been busy knitting many of the hats.

Despite suffering from eye problems and having to make the hats while the daylight is good, Chris says her dad is an impressive knitter.

“He was showing me how to do it – 88-years-old and he is showing me! He was much faster than me,” she said.

Some of the little hats were donated to The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

Some of the hats knitted in Exmouth, by John Williams, for premature babies at the RD&E Hospital. Picture by Chris Surman.Some of the hats knitted in Exmouth, by John Williams, for premature babies at the RD&E Hospital. Picture by Chris Surman.

But the ones John has knitted in Exmouth have been delivered to the RD&E by a local nurse who works on the neonatal unit.

Chris believes her dad is ‘a hero’ - and these feelings have been shared by many others.

When she posted a picture of the hats on the Exmouth Community Facebook page, and explained what her father was doing, many people praised his ‘lovely’ gesture.

The post has received more than 195 reactions and been shared multiple times.

John Williams, knitting hats in Exmouth, for premature babies at the RD&E Hospital. Picture by Chris Surman.John Williams, knitting hats in Exmouth, for premature babies at the RD&E Hospital. Picture by Chris Surman.

One of hats even went to an expectant Exmouth mum, who got in touch after seeing it.

She asked if she could have a hat in exchange for a donation to the hospital, because her baby was expected to be premature.

Chris says all of the positive reactions from local people on social media have given her dad a much-needed lift in spirits.

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